Last summer, my son Josh had the opportunity to represent Rockland County at the JCC Maccabi Games in Springfield, MA on the 14U basketball team. Not only did Josh and his teammates play some great basketball, do community service and see the Basketball Hall of Fame, but they got to meet athletes from all over the world. It was one of those “memories of a lifetime” type experiences.
This coming summer, from August 12 to 17, Rockland County has been given the honor of hosting the Maccabi Games. We will have 225 athletes on “Team Rockland” as well as approximately 1,100 athletes in 40 delegations from across the United States and Canada, Israel, Latin America and the United Kingdom. It will probably be the largest Jewish event ever in Rockland County.
Naturally, the largest Jewish event ever in Rockland County needs hundreds of volunteers to make it work. Planning is in full force and right now the focus is finding Jewish families to house two or more athletes. Host duties include drop off in the morning, pick up after the evening activity, dinner two nights, breakfast each morning and one host family night where you can plan an activity with your guests or join with other host families to do something fun.
You do not need to have a child participating in the Games to be a host. In Springfield, Josh stayed with a couple whose children were grown and he had a wonderful time. Barbara Silverstone's two sons participated in the Games in Philadelphia last summer. One son stayed with his two friends in the home of an older woman. She was so supportive of the boys, she even came to cheer at their baseball games.
"When I was little, it was so exciting for me when our family hosted teens from another city for youth group events," said Lanie Etkind, Maccabi Housing co-chair. "They were like heroes to us. We think it's great when families with younger children host because often the kids will grow up and want to participate in Maccabi themselves."
As Jamie Schnapper, another Maccabi Housing co-chair, said, “My son, Brandon, has participated in four Games, in cities across the United States. People have been very good to him and had him in their homes and I’m so glad Rockland is hosting and we get the chance to give back. In addition, Brandon was always so far away when he played that I had to experience it vicariously through his texts and phone calls. I’m thrilled to be able to be a part of it myself.”
There are other ways to participate in the Games, too. Team Rockland is currently registering individual athletes (tennis, table tennis, golf, swimming, dance and bowling) and still has limited openings in their team sports (baseball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, in-line hockey and volleyball). For more information go to: http://jccofrockland.org/maccabi/beanathlete.htm.
If you can’t commit to hosting, but want to be involved, there are many opportunities to volunteer the week of the Games. For more information on volunteering go to: http://jccofrockland.org/maccabi/volunteer.htm.
All of the host families are welcome to attend Opening Ceremonies at RCC and any of the sporting events. Many of the athletes don't have anyone to root for them and enjoy if their temporary families cheer them on.
When Josh was in 6th grade, he participated in the French Exchange program through the Felix Festa Middle School. We had Arthur from Lyon, France live with us for two weeks. It was an amazing opportunity for my children to meet someone from another country and get to know him. Hosting for the Maccabi Games gives you that same chance.
And as my kids noted, the two weeks that Arthur was with us, I didn’t yell once, so there is that added benefit, too! It was so enriching to my family to have Arthur here and I feel very strongly that the Maccabi Games will bring the same feeling.
To register to be a host go to: https://www.jccmacreg.org/Registration/index.aspx