JCC Maccabi Games/ArtsFest in Israel in Photos

For the very first time, the JCC Maccabi Games/ArtsFest took place in Israel this summer. Over 1,000 Jewish teens from three continents participated in the two-week event, traveling from northern Israel to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In addition to sports competitions and arts performances, the teens took part in a community-service project in Kiryat Shmona, a town near the Lebanon border that suffered extensive damage during the last war; spent Shabbat with Israeli host families in their P2K communities; and met other Jewish teens from North America, Israel, and South Africa. It was an extraordinary experience for everyone involved, and it required tremendous cooperation from partner organization Maccabi World Union as well as the 50 communities that sent their kids to participate. Here are photos from the scene:

Har Va Guy (a.k.a. The Hub) is the high school where athletes and artists started and ended their day. Nearly all the buildings on the campus are decorated with student artwork, such as the mixed-media piece above.

While competing and creating in northern Israel, participants stayed in five different villages located through the region. Tel Hai, pictured above, was home to nearly 200 North American Jewish teens for the first week of the trip.

Har Va Guy was home to the ArtsFest specialties. Rock bands were treated to their own, air-conditioned jam studio in bomb shelters located throughout the high school campus.

Three JCC Maccabi Games athletes from Bridgewater, New Jersey pose before Opening Ceremonies.

The athletes and artists from Houston pose for their delegation photo moments before parading across the stage at Opening Ceremonies. Houston will be hosting the JCC Maccabi Games in 2012.

The Opening Ceremonies at Kiryat Shmona were an amazing spectacle. Athletes and artists paraded across the stage in front of thousands of spectators followed by a jam-packed evening of entertainment.

JCC Maccabi ArtsFest alum and American Idol star Brett Loewenstern performs an original song at Opening Ceremonies.

The JCC of Greater Washington boys basketball team huddles around their coach during a timeout.

Two swimmers dive into a race on the second day of competition.

The girls basketball team from Boca Raton poses for a picture before their games.

Bryce Emilio Montes from the Denver/Houston/Detroit split boys soccer team hurls the ball to his teammate in a match versus Orange County.
The Orange County volleyball team plays San Diego in a standing-room only match at Hebrew University on the final day of competition.

The boys basketball team from Chicago celebrates with their gold medals.

Aspiring chefs cooked and baked an assortment of traditional Israeli dishes.

Brett Loewenstern stops by a vocal art specialty rehearsal and to the delight of 17 young fans, poses for a group picture.

Participants took a break from competition and workshops on Friday for Days of Caring and Sharing. The group of athletes and artists above paint murals and clean up the grounds of Hatzofim Youth Center in Kiryat Shmona.

Two Israeli participants pose for a picture during the Day of Caring and Sharing.

Jessica Cohen from the Sand Diego delegation, prepares for final performances at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Dancers, dressed in traditional Israeli Defense Force fatigues, rehearse on the closing ceremonies stage. The visual artist participants designed and painted four panels that anchored either side of the stage.

Rock groups performed throughout the afternoon on the day of final performances and matches at Hebrew University. A "super-group" rehearses above for the closing ceremonies.

Over 1,000 Jewish teen athletes and artists from three different continents watch their peers perform at closing ceremonies.

After a week of competing and creating, JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest participants toured Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for three days. The two participants pictured above learn about the Jewish Diaspora at Beth Hatefutsoth.

Just outside of the Kotel, participants got a history lesson about Jerusalem at the Jerusalem Archeological Park.

On the final day in Israel, teens participated in a scavenger hunt that took them through out Tel Aviv.

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