Houston’s Olympics: Jewish Teenagers to Compete in JCC Maccabi Games, ArtsFest
Just as the Olympic Games are underway in London, Houston is preparing to host Opening Ceremonies for the JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest on Sunday, Aug. 5, at the Tudor Fieldhouse at Rice University, from 7 to 9 p.m.
Hundreds of Jewish teenagers from around the country and abroad are preparing to participate in their own Olympic-style event at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, Aug. 5 – 10.
The JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest provide both athletic tournaments and intensive study in the arts to Jewish teenagers, ages 13 to 16 and 12 if from Houston. The teenagers will meet, compete or study specific arts interests, perform community service and socialize.
Thousands of spectators are expected for the Opening Ceremonies at Rice University. A highlight of the evening will be a video message from Kenny Armstrong, Olympic diving coach and three-time Olympic diver who was present at the 1972 Munich Olympics when 11 Israeli athletes were slaughtered by terrorists. The ceremonies will also feature dynamic performances from local Planet Funk dancers and modern Jewish musician and ArtsFest Rock Band AIR, Josh Nelson.
Jewish teens from 40 visiting delegations including Israel, Mexico and Panama will be joining 278 Team Houston members at this summer’s JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest. Dozens of other cities will be represented with their own teams at the Houston Games.
The JCC Maccabi Games celebrates its 30-year anniversary this summer. The Maccabi Games began as an Olympic-style sporting competition for Jewish teenagers. Every year, the teens try out for various team or individual sports in order to be able to travel to compete against others in their age group.
In 2006, some cities began to offer ArtsFest, which offers participation opportunities for those whose interests lie in the arts. Community service and social components have always, and continue to be, vital aspects of the JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest.
The 2012 JCC Maccabi Games in Houston offers competition in the following sports: basketball, soccer, volleyball, baseball, softball, dance, bowling swimming, tennis and table tennis. The JCC Maccabi athletes will be competing in 15 venues throughout the city of Houston. Teams will play games to determine the seeding for medal rounds. Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are awarded at the end of the team and individual tournaments.
More than 100 of the participating teens will be taking part in ArtsFest. ArtsFest categories include Acting/Improv, Culinary, Dance, Musical Theater, Rock/Jazz, Visual Art and Vocal Music. Each specialty will be lead by a master teacher, or Artist in Residence (AIR). The teens auditioned for their spots in each specialty. Intensive workshops will be held Monday, Aug. 6 through Wednesday, Aug. 8, and on Thursday, Aug. 9, all athletes, spectators, coaches and volunteers are invited to view the Final Showcase. This show is a culmination of all the art specialties in one final performance, and exhibits what the artists learned all week.
The JCC Maccabi Games are organized by JCC Association, in partnership with Maccabi World Union, Maccabi Canada, and Maccabi U.S.A.