One of the most important aspects of the 19th Maccabiah Games was the inspirational Israel Experience program, a six day comprehensive educational tour of Israel. During this 6-day journey of discovery, held prior to the start of the Games and integrated with pre-games training, Canadian Junior athletes traveled Israel’s historic and modern sites, from Masada to Yad Vashem, from the Golan Heights to the Dead Sea. Maccabi Canada’s Junior athletes shared in the wonders of the Jewish homeland, fell in love with the beauty of its geography, people and heritage.
Some athletes chose to renew their bond to their Jewish roots, and became a bar or bat mitzvah for the very first time at our Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration in Massada. This program also helped foster a deep bond within the Canadian Junior delegation; and created a genuine camaraderie whereby athletes formed life-long friendships. Over the course of the Maccabiah Games, Canadian athletes took part in Tikkun Olam (Repair the World) projects. Athletes had the opportunity to visit hospitals and facilities to improve the lives of the disabled or of victims of terror. They visited local elementary and high schools where they ran sport clinics and play with local Israeli kids and teens. They volunteered in local shelters and soup kitchens and helped give back to the Israeli community.
The Israel Experience enabled Maccabi Canada to create a heightened awareness of Jewish identity, strengthen Jewish bonds, encourage Jewish pride and continuity and foster solidarity with our Jewish homeland. As a result of the Israel Experience, returning athletes are engaged as community leaders and act as ambassadors for state of Israel. The Maccabiah Games is a transformative event and gives the participants a new perspective of themselves as athletes, as Canadians, and as Jews.