THE 2017 JCC MACCABI GAMES AND ARTSFEST
By Andrew Levy, Executive Director of the Schwartz/Reisman Centre and Prosserman JCC
The lens through which we see the world defines our experiences and our JCCs continuously explore opportunities to strengthen Jewish identity and build community locally, continentally and globally. Last week over 2000 teenagers took part in a powerful and transformative experience in Miami, FL and Albany, NY at the 36th annual JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest. The JCC Maccabi Games brings Jewish teenagers together from around the world to represent their communities by competing in sporting events, while ArtsFest provides talented artists with the opportunity to work with experts in their fields in order to fine-tune their craft. However, the competition was secondary this past week to the celebration of our Jewish heritage and the global Jewish community.
Every year Toronto sends a very strong delegation and this year we were represented by 130 outstanding athletes and coaches, the third largest delegation at the Games. Accompanying them was a large contingent of enthusiastic and patriotic family members who were soaking in the experience with Canadian flags and big smiles.
While the games foster a healthy sense of competition, every aspect of this unique experience is infused with Jewish values. Awards for rachmanus (compassion) and tikkun olam (repairing the world) are awarded in addition to the traditional gold, silver and bronze medals. Lior Cyngiser, who sits on the Board of the Schwartz/Reisman Centre and Prosserman JCC, found the games to be “an extremely powerful and inspiring experience. The JCC Maccabi Games provided great insight into the power that sport, Jewish values and community have not only on the athletes and artists, but for the families, volunteers and the community at large as well. The Games are more than just a sports tournament – they galvanize the community. The passion and Jewish pride from all those involved was contagious and inspiring.”
On behalf on the Toronto delegation, we are incredibly proud of all the young people who took part in this year’s Games and ArtsFest and would like to congratulate them on their many accomplishments. Our swimming team brought home an impressive 71 medals from Miami, the most in Toronto’s history at the games. Toronto was undefeated in hockey, bringing home the gold. Other highlights include a gold medal in girls soccer, a silver medal in boys soccer, a gold medal in girls tennis, and innumerable showings of sportsmanship, teamwork and Jewish spirit along the way.
Lorne Goldstein, Chair of the Schwartz/Reisman Centre and Prosserman JCC Board of Directors, had the pleasure of attending this year’s games and found it be a hugely impactful experience, stating that “This gathering of young athletes and artists from North America, Great Britain, and Israel really provided a unique opportunity for the participants to share and grow their Jewish identity and values under the JCC international banner. Kol Hakavod to our 130 athletes and coaches who competed. A special thanks to our Miami hosts who worked so hard to put these games together and graciously housed our Toronto contingent.”
The games are so much more than a sporting competition. The JCC Maccabi experience is truly one that our athletes and artists will carry with them for the entire lives. It connects on the highest level their passions with their heritage and offers them a deep and meaningful Jewish experience. This is made possible by our incredibly dedicated volunteer coaches and passionate delegation heads. We are so fortunate to have them on our team.
We look forward to seeing everyone at the 2018 JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest (Aug. 5-10, 2018), to be hosted by the Merage JCC of Orange County and the Alpert JCC of Long Beach in California. For information about how you can join a future delegation, email us at [email protected].
MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE GAMES:
“Victorious athletes not only winners at Maccabi Games” – Times Union, Albany, NY
“Thousands expected at JCC Maccabi Games & ArtsFest in Miami” – Sun-Sentinal, Broward County, FL
Video: “JCC Maccabi Games Underway” – WBRC Fox 6 News, Birmingham, AL
Additional coverage can be found on our Facebook page.