December 6, 2023
December 6, 2023

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JCC Maccabi Games® Kick Off in Israel

World’s largest Jewish youth sporting event is back in Israel for the first time since 2011. Delegations include teens from Ukraine and Morocco.

(Courtesy of JCCA) In a proud and longstanding partnership and in the continuing celebration of Israel’s 75th anniversary, JCC Association of North America and Maccabi World Union are bringing athletes from around the globe together in Israel at the world’s largest Jewish youth sporting event, beginning on July 6. More than a thousand Jewish teens from 10 countries will kick off the weeklong JCC Maccabi Games an Olympic-style sports event that includes opening and closing ceremonies, community service and social and cultural events.

At the Games’ conclusion, the teens will set off on two weeks of immersive, innovative and educational travel throughout the country—a dynamic journey designed to strengthen their commitment to Jewish peoplehood and to building meaningful connections with Israel’s land, people, history and distinctive cultures. This year marks the return of the Games to Israel for the first time since 2011, and reflecting the JCC Movement’s deep commitment to the Jewish homeland, participants represent one of the largest and most diverse teen groups visiting the country this summer.

“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.”

Substantial support from several organizations is bringing the Games to life, and this year JCC Association raised more than $5 million for JCC Maccabi. Recognizing the unique educational and community-building opportunity, RootOne, which is seeded through a generous grant from The Marcus Foundation and powered by The Jewish Education Project, has provided $2.6 million in funding. RootOne helps connect thousands of Jewish teens to Israel by lowering the financial barrier to participation in immersive summer trips to Israel and investing in the educational quality of those experiences.

Mosaic United, the Samueli Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Seed the Dream Foundation, and other individual and anonymous donors have also provided critical support for the Games’ educational components, community service activities and more. The JCC Movement enjoys a 34-year partnership with The Coca-Cola Company, a longtime and proud sponsor of the JCC Maccabi Games and the longest continental sponsor of the JCC Movement.

“After many years, we are excited to host the JCC Maccabi Games in Israel for only the second time,” says Roey Tshuva, chairman of the Games, “and we hope they will become part of Maccabi World Union’s global movement plan. We offer our thanks to the municipality of Haifa and Maccabi Israel for their partnership in hosting the event and recruiting the Israeli delegation.”

Naor Galili, CEO of Maccabi Israel, notes, “Maccabi Israel is proud to be a partner in the international activities of Maccabi World Union and JCC Association. In addition to the JCC Maccabi Games here in Israel that will include about 300 Israeli athletes, approximately 200 Israeli athletes will represent our country in the Maccabi Pan-American Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, while 40 athletes will compete for Israel at the JCC Maccabi Games in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, later this summer.”

The 41st JCC Maccabi Games Opening Ceremony will be live streamed worldwide on July 9 at 7:30 p.m. local time (12:30 p.m. ET). Athletes, coaches, and delegation heads will be celebrated through the music of the internationally celebrated and award-winningShalva 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.

JCC Maccabi will continue this summer in North America, August 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. Among the 64 delegations from North America and six delegations from countries around the world are 22 athletes who will participate as part of JCC Maccabi Access. Access 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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