The Merage Jewish Community Center (JCC) is gearing up once again to play host to more than 150 pre-teen Jewish boys and girls for this year’s Jr. Maccabi Games.
Kids, ages 10-12, from Orange County, Los Angeles and Long Beach will enjoy team competitions in swimming, basketball, soccer and tennis, as well as sports journalism. Events will also include an opening ceremony; a rousing parade of athletes who will march in with their respective delegations, followed by the athletes’, spectators’ and coaches’ oaths; as well as a full spectrum of sports and sports journalism.
In between events, the kids meet new friends and do community service together with JCC Cares. Last year, they wrote letters to military heroes. This year’s community service is a surprise.
“The Merage JCC is proud to host this event. It is a tremendous opportunity to see Jewish youth come together for a day of sport, competition and camaraderie. Every year we are proud of the kids who represented our community with dignity and true Maccabi spirit,” said Sam Cohen, Vice President of Program Services & Assistant Executive Director at the JCC.
Starting with the Games’ oaths, the various competitions are intentionally imbued with a focus on rachmanus and midot. Rachmanus according to Jamie, mother of two Jr. Maccabi athletes, means “playing fair and with Maccabi spirit”. Jacob, a young participant, further explains, rachmanus means, “Keeping team spirit, respect and friendship towards each other in sports. Luke, age 12, adds “I loved the spirit, or rachmanus, of the players when they are on the field, court and pool. It was fantastic to have all of us kids together”.
Midot refer to values. The teams march in under banners hailing Maccabi midot, including pride, tikkun olam (repair the world) and ahava (love).
“Clear eyes, full heart… can’t lose!”
Eddie Priesand, the JCC’s Sports & Recreation Director, better known “Coach Eddie”, runs the Games. “I love seeing the players coming together as teams and successfully applying the skills they learn in practice,” he explains.
Some of the young participants opt to participate as sports journalists or “Star Reporters”, capturing the Games in photos, stories and quotes. Last year, they asked athletes to share secrets to success:
- “Accomplish the goals to accomplish life”, Viktor, age 12
- “Work hard, play hard”, Ben, age 12
- “If you make mistakes, keep playing and doing your best,” suggests Toby, age 10.
- “Work hard, play hard” advises Fionia.
The Junior Games, for kids ages 10-12, are for many a precursor to the JCC Maccabi Games for older teens, ages 13-16, who travel to different parts of the country to compete in a week-long event.
Even though Jr. Maccabi is a one-day event, great effort is made by the Merage JCC and JCC’s from Southern California to tie the participants to a large community of Jewish peers and to create lifelong memories that will encourage the athletes to participate in the “big games” for teenagers.
Jr. Maccabi Games
Sunday, June 4, 2017
at the Merage JCC
Join Jewish youth athletes from the JCCs of Orange County, Long Beach, Los Angeles and more for an exciting day of Jewish youth Olympics. Players ages 8-12 (as of June 4, 2017) choose from tennis, basketball, dance, swimming, soccer or journalism. All sports except basketball are co-ed and will be offered in 12U and 10U competitions. Don’t miss this exciting and unique opportunity to introduce your child to the Maccabi community, which they can experience as a Jewish athlete for the rest of their lives!
For more information contact Eddie Priesand.