Each summer, more than 3,000 Jewish teens, ranging from ages 12-16, participate in the JCC Maccabi Games, an annual Olympic-style sporting competition for Jewish teens in North America. In 2020, the East Valley JCC will send a delegation to the Games for the first time. 

Next year’s JCC Maccabi Games will be held in San Diego from Sunday, Aug. 2 through Friday, Aug. 7.  

The delegation will be led by Sam Schuman, the EVJCC’s new Camp, Youth and Family director. 

“From my time at age 13 heading off to Denver for my first ever Maccabi Games, it was clear that Maccabi was something special,” Schuman says. “Now, all these years later, I look back on my years competing and coaching in Baltimore then, eventually, leading the Philadelphia delegation of over 140 participants, as the best weeks of my life. I look forward to reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones each and every year with the same level of enthusiasm as when I got on the plane to Denver.”

Sports will include girls’ and boys’ soccer, girls’ and boys’ basketball, baseball, softball, flag football, swimming, tennis, golf, ice hockey and esports. Practices and training times and locations will be determined based on the level of interest. Each evening is packed with a fun event that explores a part of San Diego.

In addition to the sports competitions, the Games offer an environment that fosters mutual respect and sportsmanship and offers opportunities to meet their Jewish peers and to participate in community service projects. 

“Maccabi is something I look forward to all year,” said Sara Kestenbaum, a soccer player who was part of Schuman’s Philadelphia delegation. “It’s about competing, but, more importantly, about coming together as Jews and meeting people you wouldn’t have ever met before. It is a truly amazing event that I wish I could do for the rest of my life.”

That same week, there is also JCC Maccabi Arts Fest, an arts experience for Jewish teens ages 12-17 that features 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.

ArtsFest offers artists the opportunity to partake in intimate master classes with professional artists from their respective fields during the day and party at the largest Jewish teen block party each night. The program culminates in an exciting final showcase, where each specialty will have the opportunity to share their creations with fellow ArtsFest and Games participants and invited guests. 

Any artist who is interested in visual arts, dance, culinary, vocal, instrumental, or theatrical arts, as well as any athletes interested in competing, should contact Sam Schuman at sam@evjcc.org to learn more, including information on costs and available scholarships. The deadline to register will be at the beginning of March 2020.