The largest Jewish youth event in the world is taking place in Orange County this August. The Merage Jewish Community Center in Irvine will host the 2018 JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest, considered the Jewish teen Olympics, August 5 through 10.
Welcoming more than 2,500 visiting teens from 65 communities across the U.S. and the world, as well as more than 300 local Orange County teens, 800 host families, 1,500 volunteers and 10,000+ spectators, the JCC Maccabi Games will be the largest Jewish event ever in Orange County.
Tournaments, competitions, and workshops occur in a dozen venues around Orange County during the day, and at night the teens socialize at various beach, bowling and party nights . Maccabi is exponentially more than just a sports competition or arts festival; for the teens it is an exciting week of competition, culture, friendship, and making a difference. For our host families, volunteers and community, it is a “wow” moment, seeing the largess of the Jewish people and the true sense of community.
A staple of the weeklong event will be incorporating tikkun olam (repairing the world) through JCC Cares. “JCC Cares is dedicated to giving back to the community. The teens take time out of their competitions to come together with peers from around the world, united in working together to serve others," Nancy Chase, co-founder of JCC Cares.
Teens will lead hundreds of younger kids from throughout the county in arts and crafts projects, carnival games, Wacky Olympics, and sports skills workshops. Nearly 500 guests from a dozen local nonprofits
They will share their love for soccer, basketball, volleyball, and tennis with their new younger friends and put together Simcha Shabbat boxes to bring a bit of joy to Jews who are spending Shabbats in hospitals. The teens learn that while they are from many different places, they are all connected by their Jewish heritage and values. JCC Cares’ social action goals demonstrates to the teen volunteers, that Jews from around the world have the ability and the responsibility to come together to make the world a better place.
Hockey players, busy with a Maccabi tournament in Anaheim, will visit the Orange County Food Bank stuffing boxes of food for some of the 300,000 people in Orange County who suffer from food insecurity.
The Maccabi teens also expect to put together thousands of hygiene kits for homeless families. In addition to toothpaste and toothbrushes, washing clothes, shampoo, etc., the teens share well wishes in hand written cards. A group of teen journalists will conduct interviews with local Holocaust survivors to preserve and share their stories throughout the Orange County community.
Dan Bernstein, CEO/President of the Merage Jewish Community Center, and host to the 2018 Maccabi Games and ArtsFest, shared “JCC Cares is a key element of the Games and ArtsFest, as the sports and arts are fun, but ultimately the week is about community building. JCC Cares creates opportunities for the teens to make a real difference. It’s amazing what they gain in doing so.”