Will Hatch was one of eight teens from Edmonton and Calgary who had a chance to experience JCC Maccabi in San Diego, California in August 2022. The experience opened his eyes to the Jewish world outside of Alberta.
“I feel like we have a smaller Jewish community than other cities. Outside of Talmud Torah, I didn’t have many Jewish friends until I started going to BBYO. But when I went to Maccabi, I didn’t realize how many Jewish teens there were, especially Jewish teens who play sports,” he says.
He wanted to go to Maccabi after hearing about it from friends at Camp BB Riback. During his trip, he played hockey, stayed with a billet family, and made new friends, some who he still stays in touch with.
The games celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2022. It’s an opportunity for teens to play 13 different sports from delegations around the world. The mission of the JCC Maccabi Games is that it is a Jewish event for Jewish teenagers intending to foster long-lasting memories and identification with organized Jewish community groups and with Israel. JCC Maccabi Games aim to foster a strong Jewish identity among all its participants.
Maccabi pairs well with the Jewish Federation of Edmonton’s strategic plan to develop young leaders and provide accessible Jewish experiences. This year there are 11 teens going to Fort Lauderdale, Florida from August 4 – 11. They will be billeted with local host families and participate in table tennis, swimming, volleyball, baseball, and tennis.
There is also a separate trip for the Israel JCC Maccabi Games from July 5 to 25. Eight athletes are competing in soccer, swimming, flag football, and hockey. This delegation will also include a few Israeli teens from the Federation’s Partnership2Gether region. The sporting tournament will include meeting famous and influential Israeli sports figures, and will culminate with a tour of Israel focusing on sports and important cultural and historical sights. The participants will be housed in dorms. Chloe Soibelman and Marit Abrams are the delegation heads for Team Alberta.
For Will, he believes JCC Maccabi is an opportunity that teens shouldn’t pass up. “I think it’s life changing. Most people only go once, and they try to make it the best experience for you.”