Since 1932, the Maccabi Games have shone as the “Jewish Olympics,” a prestigious event where Jewish athletes celebrate heritage and sport. Now, this legacy continues with the JCC Maccabi Games®, which is coming to Detroit this July and August! The JCC Maccabi Games® is a unique chance for teenage athletes to showcase their talents in sports ranging from baseball to swimming to dance. This event is all about inclusion and is open to all genders and non-binary athletes. These events are more than a competition. It’s about support, fun, and connecting with a deep cultural history. Here’s why enrolling your teen in the St. Louis JCC Maccabi Games® Delegation is a great idea for your teenage athlete, family, and community!

Builds Character

Sports and competition have long been heralded as arenas for physical prowess and the cultivation of character. They offer a landscape where individuals can grow personally and learn to be better teammates. 

The lessons learned on the field or court include perseverance, teamwork, discipline, and respect. These qualities all translate into essential life skills that will set your child up for success. 

Healthy competition molds individuals into better versions of themselves, equipping them with the tools to contribute positively to society. Experiences gained during sporting events teach athletes how to face challenges head-on, celebrate victories humbly, and accept defeats with grace.

The JCC Maccabi Games® epitomize this ethos of character-building through sports. Since St. Louis first participated in the Games in 1984, the J has provided an opportunity for young athletes in St. Louis to engage in an experience that transcends sports. 

The energy and excitement surrounding the Games make them an unforgettable journey for everyone involved—athletes, volunteers, coaches, and hosts alike. With St. Louis having hosted the Games multiple times, the city has become a beacon of the spirit and values that the Games promote. Through participation in the JCC Maccabi Games®, young athletes are immersed in an environment that fosters growth, camaraderie, and a deeper connection to their Jewish heritage.

Connects to Core Jewish Values

At the heart of the JCC Maccabi Games® are three core values that extend beyond the realm of physical competition. First, the Games champion Rachmanus (compassion), encouraging participants to approach each other and the competition with empathy and understanding. 

Compassion involves recognizing the emotions of others and taking action to alleviate their struggles. When competing, athletes are enduring similar struggles as they both attempt to attain the same goals. This environment fosters a sense of communal support and respect, enabling athletes to appreciate the perspectives and challenges of their peers.

It’s crucial for teens to develop this quality as it nurtures emotional intelligence, promotes positive social interactions, and builds a foundation for empathetic leadership and community engagement in their future endeavors.

Secondly, the JCC Maccabi Games® promotes the principle of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world). This is a concept that’s deeply ingrained in Jewish tradition because it emphasizes the pursuit of social justice. 

From the perspective of the Jewish community, Tikkun Olam represents a call to action to reach out beyond one’s immediate circle and work towards the betterment of the global community. Using sports as a universal language, the Games bridge differences and fosters unity. 

They strive to cultivate a sense of responsibility among young athletes. With Tikkun Olam at its core, The Games promote philanthropy and social awareness, demonstrating how competitive sports can serve as a powerful vehicle for communal and global improvement.

Lastly, the JCC Maccabi Games® are rooted in Amiut Yehudit (Jewish peoplehood). This is a concept that encompasses the collective identity, heritage, and shared values of the Jewish people, regardless of where they live or their level of religious observance. It emphasizes the sense of belonging to a global community, operating under the belief that we are all bound together by a common history, traditions, and aspirations for the future. This notion of interconnectedness and communal responsibility is central to Jewish thought and culture, promoting unity and solidarity among Jews worldwide.

Fitness is Health

Fitness is a cornerstone of health. Instilling the importance of physical activity in children from an early age lays the foundation for a lifetime of wellness. 

Team sports and competitions offer a fun and exciting way to stay active. They promote a healthy lifestyle that could help prevent future health issues.

The JCC Maccabi Games® perfectly embody this spirit of healthy competition and personal growth. Designed for teens aged 13-16, these events are the perfect opportunity for young athletes to highlight their skills in diverse sports. 

The competitions are tailored to embrace all interests – from team sports to individual challenges. There’s truly something for every participant, emphasizing the importance of fitness and active lifestyles among teens. 

Your teen athletes can enroll to compete in the following sports and competitions: 


  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Dance
  • Golf
  • Ice Hockey
  • Soccer
  • Star Reporter
  • Swimming
  • Table Tennis
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball

This diverse array of options means that whether a teen prefers the physical intensity of basketball, the strategic depth of table tennis, or simply wants to have fun and make new friends through dance, the JCC Maccabi Games® offers a welcoming environment for all. It’s an opportunity for teens to push their limits, explore their interests, and embrace a healthier, more active lifestyle. 

Promotes Inclusion

The teenage years are a formative time in people’s lives. During this pivotal time, inclusion is more important than ever. In a world where diversity and differences should be celebrated, fostering an environment of empathy, awareness, and compassion is essential. These values help teach teenagers the importance of inclusivity, ensuring everyone feels valued and included, regardless of their background or identity. 

Research has shown that inclusion can significantly benefit physical and mental health, as well as social and emotional outcomes for adolescents. Across the United States, there’s a growing concern about teenage mental health, with studies indicating a rising trend in depression and anxiety among this age group. 

These concerns are prevalent all over Missouri, including St. Louis. Creating inclusive spaces is vital in combating these challenges, as feeling supported and understood can play a significant role in improving a teenager’s overall well-being.

The JCC Maccabi Games® stand as a beacon of inclusivity, embodying the belief that all athletes deserve to participate in a community that is safe and welcoming. The J is committed to creating an atmosphere where every participant, including athletes, staff, and volunteers, feels safe, supported, respected, empowered, and equal. 

This commitment extends to athletes who are transgender and/or non-binary, ensuring they can participate in categories that reflect their gender identity. Non-binary athletes are given the choice to select the gender category in which to compete, with registration options accommodating various identities. This approach not only respects the individuality of each participant but also reinforces the message that everyone’s presence and contributions are valued. 

Might Inspire a Future Olympic Athlete

The JCC Maccabi Games® serve as an extraordinary platform for aspiring young athletes, potentially acting as a pivotal stepping stone from local to global Olympic stages. By emulating the structure and spirit of the Olympic Games, the JCC Maccabi Games® offer participants Olympic-style sports competitions complete with opening and closing ceremonies. 

This format not only introduces young athletes to the grandeur and discipline of international competition but also instills in them the values of sportsmanship, teamwork, and cultural pride. Competing against peers from various backgrounds and countries, the experience gained at The Games can ignite a passion and ambition to pursue sports at higher levels, including the global Olympics.

Register Your St. Louis Teen Athlete for the JCC Maccabi Games®

The friendships forged and memories created during the JCC Maccabi Games® can last a lifetime. This inclusive environment provides motivation for your teen to excel and a network of support to shine bright. 

The JCC Maccabi Games® are more than just a competition. They’re a celebration of youth, sport, and community, offering a glimpse into the magic of representing one’s country on a global stage. 

Discover how your teen can join our delegation this summer. Encourage your teen athlete to embark on an unforgettable journey that will guide them to become a wiser, stronger person. Enroll your child in the St. Louis JCC Maccabi Games® Delegation in 2024