Macca-which? A Primer on the Games

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Keeping the various Maccabi Games straight isn’t always easy. There are local, national and international versions.

Keeping the various Maccabi Games straight isn’t always easy. There are local, national and international versions.

  • The World Maccabiah Games, often billed as the Jewish Olympics, began in 1932, and bring delegations from nations around the globe to compete in Israel. Apart from a 12-year interruption between 1938 and 1950, the competition has been held every four years. The 19th games are happening this year from July 18-30. The United States is sending 1,140 athletes, coaches and managers to compete in 33 sports ranging from swimming and track and field to more unusual sports like futsal, a variation of soccer popular in Europe, and rugby sevens, which, as it sounds, is a version of rugby. In addition to athletics, participants, ranging from teenagers to older adults, tour the country and engage in volunteer projects.
  • Maccabi USA Sports for Israel, which organizes the American delegation to the World Maccabiah Games, also sends a team every four years to the Pan American Maccabi Games, which are held in Latin America. The next games will take place in 2015.
  • The JCC Maccabi Games, which happen annually in North America and feature teams representing a city, rather than a country, were founded in 1982. They are taking place this year from July 28 to Aug. 2 in Austin, Texas, and from Aug. 4-9 in Orange County, Calif. Philadelphia is sending roughly 120 teen athletes, ages 13-16, to Orange County and 40 to Austin.
  • The JCC Mid-Atlantic Junior Maccabi Games, taking place at the Kaiserman JCC in Wynnewood on May 5, were started here back in 2000 for kids ages 10-12. Since then the annual contests have alternated among Wynnewood, Cherry Hill, N.J., Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del.
     

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