By: Donna Rose, Co-Chair for JCC Maccabi Games South Jersey Delegation
Back in 1999 when the Katz JCC hosted the JCC Maccabi Games, we were asked to host some visiting athletes but I did not know the impact the Games would have on my family’s life. With two small kids of my own, these boys from Chicago became big brothers for the week and continue to be in our lives! These basketball players might as well have been in the NBA the way my son looked up to them at the time. Fast-forward 15 years and my daughter has a college friend who is the sister of one of these athletes!
The experience of hosting brought my husband into coaching over the years as well as being a commissioner in the 2014 JCC Maccabi Games that took place in at the Katz JCC. My children could not wait to be teenagers so they would be eligible to compete in the Games! They continue to have strong friendships with teammates and delegation members from other local towns as well as opponents they competed against from other towns around the United States! It’s a really great experience for kids to meet someone years later and realize that they have the “Maccabi Connection.”
I continue to stay involved with the Games. Being on the executive committee when our JCC hosted in 2014 gave me the opportunity to help the Games run smoothly and provide the amazing experience that my kids had in other cities. As the Chairman of our JCC’s Team South Jersey delegation, I now get to go to other cities and watch the kids compete, but more importantly see friendships and Jewish connections made!
It is always amazing to watch the athletes marching in at Opening Ceremonies. They realize there are Jewish kids from small towns across America, not to mention in Mexico, Australia, Great Britain, Poland and other countries around the world! It’s an identity that provides them with a common ground.
The Games are not just about athletics, but also about socializing and getting to know other Jewish teens. It is a great way to get kids involved that may not necessarily be exposed to their Jewish religion or to have a different sort of religious experience.
I strongly urge anyone who has a child between the ages of 13 and 16 to find a way to get them to participate! Team South Jersey is so excited to travel to Albany, NY and Birmingham, AL this summer and hope you’ll join us. Visit https://katzjcc.org/jcc-maccabi-games/ to learn more about this year’s Games and how you can join us for an unforgettable experience.
Due to emergency construction there will be road closure northbound towards Route 70 (local access only between Kresson Road and Justa Lane to provide access to the JCC) and partial closures southbound towards Kresson Road. Please plan accordingly.