Maccabi Games Center Jewish Spotlight On Milwaukee

432607388cde09bea2da277b5a483c90The JCC Maccabi Games, an annual five-day Olympics style event and the largest Jewish youth event in the world, will be held in Milwaukee from August 2-7. The event will bring over 1,000 Jewish teens from across the globe to Milwaukee, and will require the assistance of 1,000 volunteers, 500 host families, and the 200 athletes representing Team Milwaukee.

The event has taken over two years to plan, with Milwaukee being granted the request (“bid”) in summer of 2013. Since then, various committees have met frequently to begin to solve the logistics of the full responsibility of over 1,000 teens. With the slogan “Get in the Games,” encouraging each member of the community to play a part, the committee set out, and successfully accomplished, the marketing and advertising of the Games to families, businesses, and the city government.

As the son of one of the committee’s core members, I can attest that the work done has been nothing short of remarkable. But, what has been key has been the full backing by the community, and the realization of the magnitude of the event and its undertakings.

With a Jewish population of 30,000, Milwaukee is not the most impressive in terms of sheer numbers. But, this is not about sheer numbers; this is about the genuine warmth, compassion, and commitment to the Jewish future that makes my community one of a kind.

This week’s events will manifest what the Jewish community stands for: celebration of success and continual strides for improvement. Sunday night’s Opening Ceremonies at the Bradley Center will contain raucous, fervor, and the spirit that unites the Games as one. Led by keynote speaker, former Olympic swimmer and Fox Point native Garrett Weber-Gale, the event will realize the prowess that both Milwaukee and Maccabi offer.

By day the rest of the week, they will be competing athletically in sports ranging from basketball and flag football to table tennis or even serving as a mini-journalist, dubbed the “Star Reporter.” By night, events are scheduled at Dave n Busters, the Horny Goat, and the JCC that will engage the athletes in meaningful and enjoyable experiences away from the competition, meant to foster friendship and inculcate a Jewish connection in each of them.

Wednesday will bring a vital change to the schedule. “JCC Cares” Day will send the athletes into the community, as they will pack 25,000 bags for a food pantry, build a playground at United Way, help with the Special Olympics to set up a track meet, and build garden beds for the Jewish Community Food Pantry. By showing the athletes the power of giving back, the day’s events will bring this notion to life as well as give athletes another opportunity to connect away from athletics.

In terms of building the Jewish future, this event is a prime way to do so. Establishing connections with athletes from Las Vegas to Louisville, Miami to Mexico, Philadelphia to Poland, and countless more, the event is a phenomenal social opportunity for children nationwide to unite under the common thread of their religion.

As the event kicks off and centers the Jewish world on the Cream City, the athletes, supporters, host families, volunteers, and delegation heads are ready. Let the Games begin!


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