JCC Programming, Maccabi Games and ArtsFest Give Youth Meaningful Summer Experiences
It is hard to believe that we are entering the last month of the summer programming calendar and will transition back to the school year as we approach the middle of August. For many of our children, youth and teens, their summers have been filled with meaningful, immersive Jewish experiences.
As you will see in this edition, our JCamps programming provides invaluable opportunities for our campers to grow in Jewish knowledge and values, such as Camp Tiyul, where teens helped others in need. Camp Tiyul, a travel camp for seventh through ninth-graders, spends an entire session focusing on and engaging in tikkun olam, how they can make a difference in the world informed by Jewish values and teachings. Several hundred Austin youth and teens attend Jewish overnight camps, primarily Camp Young Judaea and Greene Family Camp, which provide some of the most formative experiences as they develop their Jewish identities.
As you receive this issue, I will be on my way with 48 athletes and three artists from our community to attend the annual JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest in Detroit, Michigan. The JCC Maccabi Games are an Olympic-style sporting competition held each summer in North America; it is the second largest organized sports program for Jewish teenagers in the world.
The Maccabi Movement began in 1895 when the first all-Jewish sports club was formed in Constantinople. The first world Maccabiah Games were held in Israel in 1932. Now this two-week competition takes place every four years and has featured many world-class Jewish athletes including swimmer Mark Spitz, gymnast Mitch Gaylord, basketball players Ernie Grunfeld and Danny Schayes, and tennis players Brad Gilbert and Dick Savitt.
The first North American JCC Maccabi Games were held in 1982 with 300 athletes. Today, more than 3,000 teens, ranging from 12 to 16 years old, participate in the JCC Maccabi Games each summer. The Maccabi Games are co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center Association of North America, Maccabi World Union, Maccabi Canada, and Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel.
In 2006, the JCC started JCC Maccabi ArtsFest. JCC Maccabi ArtsFest is a weeklong summer arts experience for creative Jewish teens ages 12 through 17, featuring workshops in a variety of specialties with some of the leading artists in each field and incorporating community service, social activities and themes of Jewish heritage, community and Israel.
The JCC Maccabi ArtsFest, combined with the JCC Maccabi Games, create one joint JCC Maccabi Experience that gives our participants the opportunity to be a part of a larger Jewish teen community and allows us to offer them so much more.
This will be my first JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest experience since I was a teen, and I look forward to sharing what I know is an incredibly impactful experience.
We are blessed to offer such amazing and meaningful opportunities for youth and teens. Thank you to our families, stakeholders and professional team members for providing and doing such sacred work for our community.
Wishing each of you a wonderful end to your summer and a smooth transition back to school and the program year.
Rabbi Daniel Septimus