After so much preparation, so much excitement, and so much laundry, my house seems so much quieter after a week of the JCC Maccabi Games! And what a week it was. In addition to the very great privilege of hosting two Maccabi athletes (silver medal-winning basketball players from Shames JCC on the Hudson), my son served as a Star Reporter and my daughter helped lead the team from Northern New Jersey on the field at the Opening Ceremonies as part of Jr. Maccabi.
When we signed up for this, I really had very little idea what an impressive and eye-opening experience Maccabi was going to be for all of us. I really can’t express just how fortunate I feel that my children and I were a part of this transformational Jewish event. I am so proud that Jewish Federation & Family Services (JFFS) was a lead sponsor of the JCC Maccabi Games.
As part of the Games, JFFS created two opportunities for the participating teens to meet with Holocaust survivors: the Star Reporters interviewed them about their life experiences and three boys’ soccer teams joined them for lunch and Israeli dancing. As a Star Reporter, my son had a priceless opportunity to engage with members of our community for an afternoon he will never forget. The young athletes and reporters made the Holocaust survivors feel connected just by being truly interested in their stories, and the teens had a meaningful opportunity to meet survivors who had such captivating—although sometimes tragic—stories to tell.
The JCC Maccabi Games & ArtsFest were about so much more than the gathering of thousands of young athletes, artists, and volunteers, although that feat was pretty incredible in itself. They were also about what this experience taught our young people (and many of us older ones as well) about the importance of sharing stories between the generations and what a difference a few hours (or even minutes) of listening can make.