| An unprecedented number of corporate sponsors have signed up to support the JCC Maccabi Games® in 2011, including the first-ever JCC Maccabi Games/ArtsFest in Israel, an indication of their recognition of the program’s impact and influence. Approximately 1,500 people, including the teen participants, coaches, chaperones, family members, and JCC staff and board members, will be traveling to Israel to take part in the combination athletic-and-arts event being held on July 24 to August 5 in the northern part of the country. Stateside, both Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Springfield, Massachusetts are hosting almost 2,100 teens at JCC Maccabi Games from August 14-19. Participants are coming from Mexico, Panama, South Africa, Venezuela, and Great Britain, as well as Israel and Canada.The Games/ArtsFest presenting sponsor is The Coca-Cola Company®, a long-time supporter of the JCC Maccabi Games; other sponsors are AEPi, a Jewish college fraternity; MASA, provider of long-term Israel study programs; confectioner JustBorn, which is providing snacks to all three Games sites; IsraelPhones, the official phone sponsor for the Games/ArtsFest in Israel, providing cell phone service to teens and staff; Shlomo Sixt, official car rental partner in Israel of JCC Association; PayPal, the Internet payment provider; and Forcefield, which donated 1,000 protective headbands to domestic sites.In addition to support from corporate sponsors, the JCC Maccabi Games/ArtsFest in Israel has received support from Jewish Federations of North America, as well as foundations and individual donors. Contributions are subsidizing the teen athletes and artists’ participation. Subsidies are also being provided by our partner in Israel, Maccabi World Union, and the Israeli government.The JCC Maccabi Games have been offering a life- and personality-shaping experience to Jewish teenagers since 1982. More than 120,000 Jewish teens have participated since the Games began. JCC Maccabi ArtsFest began in 2006 as an opportunity for Jewish teens interested in the arts to develop their talents and skills in a workshop setting while forging relationships with other young Jews. JCC Association is the organizing partner of the JCC Maccabi Games and JCC Maccabi ArtsFest, working with Maccabi USA, World Maccabi Union, and Maccabi Canada.
The JCC Maccabi Games can be called the Olympics for Jewish teens where each athlete has the chance to participate in one of 15 sporting events, creating memories that will last a lifetime, but they serve a larger purpose than athletic competition. The Games also promote community involvement, teamwork, and a sense of Jewish identity. For example, athletes visiting host communities stay with local Jewish families. This home hospitality is integral to the experience, representing the extended Jewish family and the value of welcoming the stranger. Also, every set of Games has a volunteer program called Days of Caring and Sharing, when athletes join with local community organizations to work on social-action projects. Past Days of Caring and Sharing activities have included building homes for the poor, holding carnivals for handicapped children, cleaning parks, and packaging food to be given to the hungry. The purpose is to teach tikkun olam (repairing the world) by example, so that these young people incorporate these values into their daily lives once they return home. This year in Israel, teens will take part in an “extreme makeover” of a school, playground, park, and senior facility damaged by rocket fire in Kiryat Shemona.
The sponsors of the JCC Maccabi Games and JCC Maccabi ArtsFest appreciate the social values the events represent, as well as the opportunity to connect with a group of young people and their families. “JCC Association is deeply grateful to all the sponsors for their help in putting on this great program,” said Dan Deutsch, director of the JCC Maccabi Games/ArtsFest. “We couldn’t do it without them. They are making a great difference in the lives of these wonderful young people.”