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The JCC Maccabi Games: We Are The Champions

If you work in or belong to a JCC, there is a good chance that the JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest have touched your life in a transformative way. Maybe you participated as an athlete, hosted a young person in your home, coached, organized, donated, or otherwise held up a pole supporting the big, open tent that makes this enterprise one of the signature programs of the JCC Movement and North American Jewish life as a whole.

If you are a volunteer in one of this year’s host communities Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Dallas, Texas or Fort Lauderdale, Florida – or are already ramping up for next summer in St. Louis, Missouri, Stamford, Connecticut or Columbus, Ohio – you know the power of a people joining together to make JCC Maccabi come to life.

Transporting, feeding, protecting, and celebrating thousands of teens and their delegation heads from across the JCC universe is a massive undertaking. It requires logistical and technical know-how and determination, deep relationships with sponsors and donors, and activation of a wide network of local partners from vendors to event spaces to law enforcement and government. It also takes an incredible commitment from the dedicated women and men of JCC staffs, asked both to maintain the high standards of day-to-day operations at the JCC while at the same time serving as problem solvers, hosts, and partners for an entirely new community that lands at their communal door.

The JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest are driven by values: to enrich Jewish identity and experience; to celebrate the joy of life through competition, creativity, friendship, and teamwork; and to recognize that we are all part of something greater than ourselves. As I have the great privilege of enjoying the JCC Maccabi Games this week and next, when I will also experience JCC Maccabi ArtsFest, one value seems to connect all of these high aspirations: generosity.

Sounding Board salutes the generosity of the volunteers, staff, parents, artists and athletes who offer something personal and profound to this grand JCC story. JCC Maccabi is the big, open tent that has engaged hundreds of thousands of people over decades because of the countless hands holding up the poles supporting it.

With so much to celebrate this week and next, we offer two songs from the list of tunes you have sent us describing what JCC life is all about. First, the New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give”– and, of course, “We Are the Champions” because that’s what JCC Maccabi is all about for everyone involved.


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