My Two Shekels: Let the JCC Maccabi Games Begin

One of my fondest memories from early in my career is serving as the Maccabi Game Director for the JCC of Greater Boston. During those years, we saw our delegation grow from 17 to 75 athletes in just 3 years. It was the first program for which I ever solicited a contribution!

In the fourth year, the year I moved to Los Angles for graduate school, Boston hosted the Games. I had the opportunity to travel back and to see it in action. Wow! What I remember is a level of energy and enthusiasm rarely seen in Jewish teen programing on that scale. More than 1500 athletes and 2,000 coaches, volunteers and families descended upon Boston for a week of athletic competition, community building, all of which fostered a sense of Jewish pride and global Jewish peoplehood. I was hooked and subsequently served as Maccabi Games Director in Los Angeles for 3 years.

So, when we were approached to partner the Lawrence Family JCC (LFJCC) on this year’s JCC Maccabi Games and Artsfest, I was eager to see if it was a good fit. As you may know, Federation makes strategic grants and engages in strategic partnerships, deploying our dollars in ways that help us achieve our strategic goals on behalf of our local and global Jewish community.

In the case of the LFJCC proposal, we almost instantly settled on a partnership that would be a win-win for both organizations, and for the community. Naturally, our work with teen engagement resonates as the JCC Maccabi Games is arguably one of the most powerful, large-scale Jewish teen engagement programs in the Jewish world today. Additionally, and given Federation’s work with Jewish communities in Israel and around the world, this felt like a natural opportunity for our Federation to bring the global part of the Games to life.  

The Federation Board was proud to unanimously approve $100,000 of funding to the LFJCC toward this partnership (not including in-kind donations of staff and marketing support).

As part of this partnership, our Federation will be responsible for bringing athletes from our partnership region of Sha’ar HaNegev to join Team San Diego. We are also working to bring athletes from two Diaspora communities – St Petersburg and Bulgaria, communities that our Israel & Overseas Committee has been fostering relationships with for the last year – to be part of the effort.  

Here’s the rationale behind this exciting commitment:

Connecting San Diego to Jews in Israel around the world is a core pillar of the Federation mission and vision.

  • Federation’s value-add to the JCC Maccabi and Artsfest experience is the ability to activate its global network to create a sense of Jewish peoplehood in San Diego. 
  • Federation has a long history of developing exchanges between San Diego, Israel, and Jews around the world.
  • Federation is committed to deepening our partnership with Sha’ar HaNegev and showcasing that partnership as part of the games.
  • Our Israel & Overseas Committee already has stated objectives to deepen our relationship with specific Jewish communities through the directed investment in JDC (Joint Distribution Committee) and JAFI (Jewish Agency for Israel) projects.
  • Federation will be able to identify teen athletes and artists in the specific communities of Sha’ar HaNegev, Sofia (Bulgaria), and St. Petersburg (Russia) to participate in the games and connect them to San Diego teens.

We are delighted to be making this investment and entering into a special and historic partnership around an event that has the capacity to galvanize our entire Jewish community.  Mazel Tov to the LFJCC lay and professional leadership, with the incredible vision of CEO Betzy Lynch, for taking the leap and bringing this opportunity to San Diego! What a gift to all of us and to the thousands who will be impacted here as well as those from Jewish communities in Israel and around the world.  


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