Home September 2012 Grownup Maccabi Adventure

Grownup Maccabi Adventure

We are not strangers to Maccabi, having been a host family twice and Harrison having gone twice before.  Our experience this year, however, was completely different and incredible!
All three of our children were part of Team OC – baseball, volleyball and competitive dance.  The Team OC delegation of 112 athletes and artists went to Houston, Texas.  With three kids attending and family in the area, it made perfect sense for us to attend as spectators.
Excitement and spirits were high at John Wayne Airport as our delegation, decked out in matching JCC OC spirit wear, gathered, met roommates-to-be and got ready to leave.  Once we got the kids off, we raced home to pack for our own afternoon flight.
While OC enjoyed a fabulous pre-weekend filled with Shabbat, swimming, cheering and fun in Houston (including NASA), Marlon and I enjoyed a rare weekend with family without any kids, which was different and refreshing.  Sunday, while the OC delegation went to the Houston JCC for check in, orientation and pickup by their host families, Marlon and I, along with his parents, went to Houston to be part of everything.  We formed our own delegation and had a LOT of fun and laughs during the week.
The opening ceremonies were held at Rice University, Marlon’s alma mater, so that was really special.  It was so exciting to see all of the athletes and artists parade around in their spirit wear, chanting and cheering.  Delegations came from all of the US, as well as Canada, Mexico, Israel and Panama.  The tribute to the Munich 11 (Israeli athletes murdered during the 1972 Olympics) was moving, as was the entire room singing “Hatikvah” together with our arms around each other.
Monday through Thursday were the games and competitions.  Some of our kids’ competitions conflicted with one another, but we were at most of them and enjoyed watching them play.  Harrison’s baseball team included boys from seven cities to form a full team.  It’s hard to play well as a team when you meet each other and the coach only an hour before the first game, but the boys had a lot of fun!  Michela’s volleyball games were great to watch, because she had never played volleyball before being selected for the Maccabi team.  It was nice to see how far she has come.  All of Jacob’s dance competitions were in the afternoon, and they were really enjoyable.
Unfortunately, both Harrison and Michela’s teams lost early in the playoff rounds, but Jacob entered four solos (the maximum) and won silver for all four, and the Team OC Israeli dance (that the four of them put together in about an hour) won gold!
When they were not actually playing games, there was plenty for the athletes to do – special “hang time” rooms at the J or traveling to the many different venues to watch their friends play their games.  Many of our OC teams did really well, earning lots of gold, silver and bronze medals.
The evenings were filled with dances, barbecues, socials and a host family night.  Because those activities were NOT for parents or spectators, we had every evening free to go out for some fabulous meals and relax.  It was the perfect vacation for us.  Although we love being with our kids, it was a wonderful change of pace to be able to watch them “do their thing” and observe how much fun they were having, but to have alone time and a break from the normal daily tasks without any contact aside from an occasional text.
Too soon, Friday came, and it was time for us to pick up our kids, who were not traveling home with their delegation, because we went on to visit family.  Even though we were on the periphery of this amazing week, it was so wonderful to witness what an amazing experience this is for these teens… being with over 1,500 Jewish teens from all over the world, making tons of new friends, competing at sports that they love and being part of the spirit and bonding of our Orange County delegation. Next year we host the games in OC, and I highly encourage you to get involved!

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