ASHKELON, ISRAEL – The Israel Lacrosse Association has honored Marcelo Burdman and Lielle Assayag, naming them the winners of the Mort and Judi Beroza Award for Man and Woman of the Year in recognition of their outstanding individual contributions to the development of lacrosse in Israel in 2019.
Burdman, who serves as Head of Sport for the Ashkelon Municipality, was instrumental in Israel Lacrosse’s efforts to build the first dedicated lacrosse field in the Middle East in the coastal Mediterranean city. Burdman guided Israel Lacrosse leadership through the local political system, permitting processes and ultimately the ground-breaking of the new facility which now serves as the Israel Lacrosse Association’s national headquarters. Burdman also promotes small municipal grants in support of Ashkelon athletes who travel abroad to compete in major lacrosse events. His enthusiasm for the sport has enabled growth in participation to unprecedented numbers, arguably rivaling basketball and soccer in popularity in the city.
“Marcelo has been crucial to the success of lacrosse in Israel serving as a mentor, advisor, and advocate for Israel Lacrosse,” said David Lasday, Israel Lacrosse’s Chief Operating Officer. “Whether it be organizing Shabbat dinners for visiting teams and service trips at his Synagogue, or helping us navigate beauracracy in the city, he is always there for us with a smile on his face. He was the first person in the Israeli sports world to believe that the sport of lacrosse could be successful in Israel.”
Assayag, a player for Israel’s U-19 Women’s National Team, collaborated with Michael Duvdevani and other team parents to purchase cleats for the nascent Kenyan national team when she realized their rivals did not have proper equipment. The gesture of Tzedakah and newfound friendship between the two squads received unprecedented worldwide media attention on ESPN, CNN, and dozens of other major outlets. As a player, Assayag excelled at the 2019 World Championships in Canada, making 15 saves in the blue-and-white’s final placement match against Kenya. The Netanya native is a member of Israel Lacrosse’s Leadership Development Program, spending countless hours coaching several U-15 squads up and down Israel’s Mediterranean coast while specifically mentoring young goaltenders.
“Lielle is a baller,” said Sarah Meisenberg, Israel Lacrosse’s Director of Women’s Lacrosse. “She loves the game, and spends as much of her time as possible to help promote it in Israel. She has become one of the most dedicated and hard-working players and coaches. Because of her, many new young athletes have found their love for the sport.”
The Beroza family support and generosity extended to create a pair of scholarships for students at Hofstra University, which still exist in perpetuity, as well as the LI Metropolitan Lacrosse Hall of Fame Dinner, the Greenport Shootout, New York Saints games, and many other regional lacrosse initiatives. Mort was serving as the Baldwin-Hempstead Post 312 Commander of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA, as well as the Nassau-Suffolk District Council Deputy Chaplain at the time of his death. Judi previously served as National President of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA.
Mort and Judi, who were active members of Hempstead’s Temple Beth Israel for over 60 years, exemplify the passion for the sport of lacrosse, as well as the commitment to service, family, and community – values on which the Israel Lacrosse Association is based.
2019: Marcelo Burdman, Lielle Assayag
2018: Bill Beroza, Jessie Kraft
2017: Seth Mahler, Moran Sasson
2016: Jim Gottlieb, Nancy Berkowitz
2015: Brad MacArthur, Emily Brodsky
2014: Rob Berkenblit, Julia Szafman
2013: Matt Glaser, Katie Mazer