Total Maccabi Immersion

We have experienced Maccabi from every possible angle.  Each was unique and special in its own way.  Our first involvement was hosting three New York basketball players when OC sponsored the games six years ago.  It was a great experience and a lot of fun for us and our kids, but it was just a taste.  We attended the opening ceremonies and went one basketball game, but we had no concept of the magnitude of the entire weeklong event and all it encompassed.  Hosting three North Carolina ArtsFest participants two years later was similarly enjoyable (especially because one of our three could actually participate) and, again, whet our appetites.  It convinced all three of our kids that they could not wait to go with Team OC on a Maccabi trip.
We then had two years of sending our oldest as part of Team OC to Denver and Philly to play on the baseball team.  He had amazing experiences and developed a love for Maccabi.  We enjoyed hearing about everything, seeing pictures that the coaches and delegation heads e-mailed, and reading website updates about everything the athletes were doing during the busy week of sports, social events and community service.  We were thrilled that Harrison was able to go, and it was a wonderful experience for him to be independent and travel with the team and stay with a host family.
Last year all three of our kids were old enough to participate, and our JCC delegation traveled to Texas, only a couple of hours from all of my husband’s family.  We decided that we would go as spectators and extend the trip to be a family vacation.  Our kids were still completely with the OC delegation, and we only saw them from afar at the exciting opening ceremony and their games and competitions.  It was actually a perfect trip – we were involved enough to feel like we were part of things, but we also had alone time, because we were on our own every evening and during the times no one had a game or competition.  It was fun to catch a glimpse of what they were up to and to observe firsthand that they were having the time of their lives.
This past summer we had what I have nicknamed the “Total Maccabi Immersion.”  We lived and breathed Maccabi for five days from six a.m. until midnight.  We housed six athletes from Atlanta who were the best ever, and we had so much fun with them.  The fact that all three of our kids were participating (Harrison as part of the Coach in Training program, and Jacob and Michela on the dance and softball teams) made hosting so much more fun for them!
The other two times we felt like we got to know our athletes/artists a little bit, but then they would go do teenage things, and our kids were too young for them to really want to hang with.  This time, they all became inseparable, and the house vibrated with their talking, laughing and the “positive chaos” that comes from having a house full of nine teenagers.  Now, two months later, they still text and Facebook message regularly, as do I with “my Atlanta kids,” and we know we will be lifelong friends. We also volunteered the entire week – scorekeeping softball games, being the announcer for the dance competition and working all of the evening events.  Then there was driving all nine kids to their morning venues, gathering them all at the end of each evening, taking them home or out to late nights they loved, enjoying a fun evening for host family night and just hanging out.
We were so proud of our own kids AND our Atlanta kids for embracing the spirit of Maccabi the way that they did, for competing their hardest (and all of them winning a lot of gold and silver medals) and for being awesome.  Of all of our Maccabi experiences, this was by far the absolute best.  I’m sad that the opportunity to host while we have kids participating won’t happen for us again, but we have lots of pictures and memories to keep it fresh in our minds!

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