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Maccabi Games Coming To Albany Next Year

A kickoff event was held Sunday at the Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center to promote The Maccabi Games, expected to bring more than 700 athletes from around the world to the area next year. 

The Maccabi Games are an Olympic-style sporting event for Jewish teenagers. Officials say the five-day competition fosters community involvement, leadership, friendship and sportsmanship while cultivating a deeper understanding of Jewish values and identity.  The games will be held in the Capital Region for the first time.  Adam Chaskin is the executive director of the Albany JCC.  "It's going to be a bonding experience for the entire community, not just the Jewish community, which it will be certainly amplified in, but the entire Capital Region Community, will come together as we bring an Olympic-style sporting event with thousands of out-of-town visitors coming into town to experience the Capital Region and the kids themselves age 13 to 16 that have the fortune of benefiting with both have a cultural and athletic positive experience."

2014 Maccabi athlete Halle Niner:  "I'm really excited. It brings the whole youth community together and we get to see our friends and participate in something that everyone enjoys and it's a great experience for everyone to come together and just play what they like to do."

Congressmen Paul Tonko will serve as co-chair for the event. He told those gathered at the JCC:  "The opportunities that our Jewish teens have to compete in  the course of the Maccabi Games in various disciplines, enables them to understand the value added that comes with total investment, the holistic approach, to the growth of an individual."

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy says the games will have a tremendous economic impact.  "It's gonna be great for everybody when they come here and really explore this great region. The highlight, the Maccabi Games in the Capital District is the first of its kind ever here is huge. The last biggest games we really had were the Empire State Games. So this is bigger than the Empire State Games, so it's really gonna showcase again how we do with the MAAC tournaments and everything else we do at the Times Union Center. This is really gonna bring everything in the fold and really show that sports venues like this really attract people from all over."

Mark Weintraub is executive director of the Schenectady JCC: "Even though they're competitive, the real key here is compassion. When you go to an event at a Maccabi game you don't hear a lot of applauding for either side. The idea is not to win, the idea is to be together. So it's a different type of an experience."

Dave Lucas : "Is it Maccabi or Maccabi? I'm hearing it two different ways."

Mark Weintraub: Well, if you speak Hebrew, you'd say Maccabi or you can say Maccabi. Either way, tomato, tomato it's all good to me!"

The Maccabi Games is the largest Jewish Youth event in the world, open to Jewish teenagers ages 13-16. The games will be held in the Times Union Center in Albany from Aug. 6 through Aug. 11 of 2017.  The other locations picked for the 2017 games are Miami and Birmingham, Alabama.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Teen athletes assemble at the Albany Jewish Community Center, September 2016.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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