Five Bay Area JCCs are sending athletes to this year’s Maccabi Games, which begin Sunday, Aug. 10 in two locations: Cherry Hill, N.J., and Boca Raton, Fla. A week later, there will be a Maccabi ArtsFest in Detroit.
The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco is sending a delegation of 60 athletes, the most of any local JCC. The JCCSF has two boys basketball teams, one boys baseball team and one dance team. In addition, some individual athletes will compete in soccer, track and field and table tennis. They will be competing in Cherry Hill through Aug. 15.
This is the 32nd year of the games, which began in 1982 for 13-to-16-year-olds from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Israel and other countries. Combining competition with community service, the Maccabi Games are the largest organized sporting event for Jewish teens in North America.
Part of the mission, acacording to the website, is “to provide Jewish youth with a supportive environment that fosters mutual respect and sportsmanship, where they can interact in an atmosphere of fun, democracy and peace.”
There are 15 sports to choose from. Team sports include flag football, in-line hockey, lacrosse and volleyball. Individual sports include bowling, golf and swimming.
At the ArtsFest in Detroit from Aug. 17-22, participants can get involved in a variety of activities: acting/improv, cooking, dance, musical theater, rock band, visual arts and vocal music/glee. They can also opt to be a “star reporter,” sharing stories of the Maccabi Games and ArtsFest via video, photograhs, newsletters, blogs and Twitter.
The JCC of the East Bay is sending 48 individuals to the games in Cherry Hill, more than double the size of last year’s contingent. Athletes are from Albany, Oakland, Berkeley, Danville and the Lamorinda area.
Nine athletes are signed up to compete for the Peninsula JCC’s delegation in Boca Raton. Most of them are boys basketball and baseball players, but since they don’t have enough players to form their own team, they will join up with athletes from other areas to create a full squad.
The Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto — which didn’t send any athletes to the games last year — is all set for a big “comeback year,” according to Ashley Jerome, the teen program manager at the center. She is leading a delegation of eight OFJCC athletes to the games in Boca Raton. It’s a varied group of four boys and four girls, with athletes signed up for soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, flag football and swimming.
The Addison-Penzak JCC in Los Gatos is sending seven athletes to Boca Raton to compete in four sports. For the second straight year, the Osher Marin JCC will not be participating, but hopes to put together a team in the future. The JCC of Sonoma County is not competing, either.