In 2009 the Merage Jewish Community Center hosted ArtsFest for the first time. ArtsFest is a weeklong arts experience for creative Jewish teens ages 13 to 17. This year, thinking bigger – more kids working, playing and learning together – the Merage JCC is joining the 2013 ArtsFest and Maccabi Games together in Orange County. “Whether you are an athlete, artist, family or friend, the sheer size of this event and the opportunity to connect so many teens to the Jewish community is epic!” says event director Sam Cohen. Until now Jewish teens who prefer to explore art over athletics did not have equal opportunities to meet and socialize. More than 2350 Jewish youth from around the nation — and even the world, with teams coming from Israel, Mexico, Canada, and Great Britain — converge at the Merage JCC August 4 to 9.
Dan Bernstein, Merage JCC president and CEO, said, “Combining the ArtsFest and Maccabi Games will bring more Jewish youth than ever before together here at the JCC. It is amazing to see their talents showcased amongst friends and peers.” Chairs Leanne Cohen and Wendy Stark look forward to celebrating national talent on a local stage.
The 2013 ArtFest incorporates 140 Jewish teens, 40 from Orange County, for the weeklong event. Participants select acting/improv, dance, music, music theater or reporting as their areas of focus. Every group works with leading artists in specific fields. The artists provide a unique Jewish perspective, host master classes and coach the teens directly. Teens will have unparalleled opportunities to learn and practice skills and explore a wide range of material.
The program culminates in an exciting final showcase, where each teen will have the opportunity to share his or her creations with fellow ArtsFest and Games participants and guests. The Star Reporters will report on the games, capturing the events of each day in articles, photos, videos and social media postings and tweets. Daily they will produce printed and online newspapers for the ArtFest and Games.
Heath Cullens, artistic director at the 2013 ArtFest, explained, “Arts education for youth gives teens a necessary voice and means of self-expression vital to their growth, whether they choose to pursue art or not.”
ArtFest participants will all incorporate the theme “Middot” into their work the week of ArtFest. The Merage JCC outlined the six key values (middot) that embody the “spirit” (ruach) of being a JCC Maccabi participant. The national Jewish Community Center Association of North America, home of the traveling JCC Maccabi Games and ArtFest, impressed with the “Middot” values and messages, adopted the theme for all future ArtFest and Maccabi activities.
The six values/middot are:
• Repairing the World/ Tikkun Olam
• Respect/ Kavod
• Joy/ Rina
• Pride/ Ge’avah
• Open Hearted/ Lev Tov
• Jewish Peoplehood / Amiut Yehudit
This summer, in addition to competing for medals in athletic competitions, athletes and artists will earn medals for modeling the middot.
Bernstein noted, “Promoting Jewish talent and providing the opportunity for young artists to share their affinities in a supportive environment while exploring their Jewish heritage is priceless.”
ArtsFest Specialties 2013
Acting/Improv with Artist in Residence Megan Campisi
Dance with Artist in
Residence Lauren Shavitz
Music with Artist in
Residence Mattan Klein
Musical Theater with Artist in Residence Naomi Ackerman
Rock Band with Artist in Residence Kevin Bachelder
Star Reporters with Artist
in Residence Linda Cooper
Visual Arts with Artist in Residence Lynne Kaplan
Vocal Music with Artist in Residence Beth Schafer