Ten days from today, on July 25th, 900 teens from North America will be arriving to participate in the first JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest program in Israel!
There are many reasons to be excited, mostly that 1500 JCC members (including teens, staff, delegation heads, JCC Association board members, execs and families) will be participating. The JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest are amazing events, where thousands of Jewish teens meet, compete, create and have a great time together. Having them take place in Israel adds a special dimension and allows other experiences and components to be part of the program.
The Games and ArtsFest workshops will all take place in northern Israel under the title, “Salute to the North.” Northern Israel is divided into two distinct regions, the Galilee and the Golan Heights. With its rural landscape, rolling mountains and natural water sources, the North is considered Israel’s prime vacation spot. Although this beautiful landscape has known some difficult times, the decision to place the Games/ArtsFest in this amazing region is an act of solidarity and support.
Just before the final competitions and performance, all the teens will have the opportunity to spend a few hours volunteering in memory of Elad Riven. Elad, a 16-year-old Israeli, volunteered to help battle the huge wildfire in the Carmel hills last December. Tragically, he was caught in the flames and lost his life.
Shabbat will be spent with 40 Partnership communities all over Israel. All 40 delegations will be bused to their P2K communities to spend Shabbat at an Israeli home with new Israeli friends. All 40 Israeli communities are housing our JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest delegations as part of their ongoing relationships with North American communities. The home hospitality weekend and the partnership program is an act of One Global Jewish Community.
Caring, Tikkun Olam, solidarity, support and the sense of One Global Jewish Community are parts of the foundation of JCC Association. The beauty of having the Games and ArtsFest in Israel is to better connect our teens to their Jewish heritage and Israel. All these elements together add up to Jewish peoplehood.
JCC Association is heavily invested in Jewish peoplehood. Under the umbrella of Jewish peoplehood, we are focusing on people-to-people partnerships with Israelis through a variety of programs and initiatives. One of these initiatives is the direct JCC-matnas (Israeli Community Center) partnership. The vision behind this growing initiative is to encourage sharing ideas, building bridges and strengthening Jewish identity. Our teens will walk over these bridges and strengthen their Jewish identities by staying with Israeli families at their Partnership communities for Shabbat.
Wishing all of us a wonderful JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest program in Israel,
Leah, Director, JCC Association Israel office