JCC Maccabi Games Begin July 6 in Israel

JCC Maccabi Games Begin July 6 in Israel

More than a thousand teens will take part in the JCC Maccabi Games, followed by an Israeli cultural tour and enrichment program.

Sasha Heller is the Web Editor and Copy Editor for the Atlanta Jewish Times

The JCC Maccabi Games in Israel will bring together more than 1,000 teen competitors hailing from 10 countries and four continents // Photo Credit: JCC Association of North America
The JCC Maccabi Games in Israel will bring together more than 1,000 teen competitors hailing from 10 countries and four continents // Photo Credit: JCC Association of North America

The JCC Maccabi Games in Israel, a signature program of JCC Association of North America, will begin July 6, in a continuing celebration of Israel’s 75th anniversary. The global competition, organized by JCC Association of North America and Maccabi World Union, brings athletes from around the world together in Israel for the world’s largest Jewish youth sporting event. More than 1,000 teens hailing from 10 countries will take part in the Olympic-style competition.

The sporting event is merely one part of the program, as once the Games conclude, the participants will travel throughout the country on an immersive cultural enrichment tour. The goal of the learning tour is to “strengthen their commitment to Jewish peoplehood and build meaningful connections with Israel’s land, people, history, and culture,” according to a news release.

This year’s iteration of the Games will mark the return of the competition to Israel for the first time since 2011.

The 2023 JCC Maccabi Games will return to Israel for the first time in 11 years as part of Israel’s 75th anniversary // Photo Credit: JCC Association of North America

“The JCC Maccabi Games are perhaps the most extraordinary Jewish peoplehood initiative of our time. Drawing teens from JCC communities across North America, Israel, and around the globe, the Games bring us together through competition, service, and a profound encounter with the wider Jewish world,” says Doron Krakow, president and CEO, JCC Association. “To be returning to Israel as part of the ongoing celebration of the country’s 75th anniversary year and the enduring fulfillment of the dream of the modern Zionist movement is a source of enormous pride for all of us.”

JCC Association relied on $5 million of financial support from several organizations to fund the Games, including a $2.6 million contribution from RootOne, which is seeded through The Marcus Foundation and powered by The Jewish Education Project. Mosaic United, the Samueli Foundation, Charles and Lynn Shusterman Family Philanthropies, Seed the Dream Foundation, and other individual and anonymous donors also provided critical financial support for the JCC Maccabi Games.

Hockey is just one of the many sports included in the Olympic-style JCC Maccabi Games in Israel.

Among this year’s competitors are teen competitors from Ukraine and, for the first time, Morocco, an Abraham Accords country, whose athletes are participating thanks to JCC Association’s partnership with BBYO.

According to a news release, the 41st JCC Maccabi Games Opening Ceremony will be live streamed worldwide at 12:30 p.m., July 9. Athletes, coaches, and delegation heads will be celebrated through the music of the internationally celebrated and award winning Shalva Band featuring musicians with disabilities, and Mayoumana, a popular interactive performance group. As has been done since the inaugural JCC Maccabi Games more than four decades ago, the victims of the Munich Olympic massacre will be honored and remembered in a moving tribute, and together, the entire stadium will join in singing the anthems of the United States, Canada, and Israel; take the JCC Maccabi oath; and watch as an extraordinary Jewish athlete lights the opening torch to kick off the Games.

JCC Maccabi will continue this summer in North America, Aug. 6–11, hosted in partnership with the David Posnack JCC in Ft. Lauderdale, where an additional 2,000 teens will compete together at the JCC Maccabi Games — and Access, which is a unique program that makes it possible for Jewish athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities to take part in the Games, instilling a sense of inclusion and positivity in every athlete, their delegations, and the communities they represent.

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