Fresh off a multiple-medal performance in Detroit, the JCCs of Greater Toronto are eager to host an upcoming JCC Maccabi Games in its own backyard.
The organization’s board of directors will strike a committee to prepare a bid to host a competition, perhaps as early as 2018, said Rick Nelson, executive director of Jewish Community Campuses of Greater Toronto.
Much needs to be done to make the bid viable, including finding supporters to foot the bill, which can be as high as $1 million, as well as booking multiple venues and soliciting volunteer families ready to host as many as 1,500 visiting teenagers, said Nelson.
But the upside to a successful bid is enormous, he said.
“It builds community at a very high level, and not necessarily among those already at day schools or in synagogues.It adds a lot of layers of Jewishness. This brings everyone together on an equal playing field.”
Nelson said the opening ceremonies alone typically attract 10,000 to 20,000 spectators, and “when you see 1,500 Jewish kids celebrate sports and Jewish continuity, when the local community sees that, it creates a sense of pride.”
The JCC Maccabi Games are held each summer, generally in three locations in North America. Last month, Toronto sent a team of 107 athletes, aged 13 to 16, to the Games in Detroit. Parallel competitions were held in Boca Raton, Fla., and Cherry Hill, N.J.
Toronto last hosted a JCC Maccabi event in 1986. Montreal served as host in 2002 and Vancouver in 2006.
Athletes vie for medals in a variety of sports, including swimming, tennis, golf, baseball, soccer, basketball, volleyball and inline hockey.
Toronto’s delegation to the event in Detroit was the largest in the last five years. Interest in the Games has grown rapidly in recent years, while JCC Chai Sports, which organizes youth and adult sports for the Jewish community, reports growing interest in its programs.
“Because of the most recent unbelievable successes of the program, we think it logical to be able to host [the JCC Maccabi Games] right here,” said Nelson.