DHFLA, Maccabi USA announce partnership
Photos: Courtesy Larkin Family 
Sammy Larkin competes on Team USA’s 18-U water polo team at the Maccabiah in Israel in July 2022.

Objective is to send more North Texas Jewish athletes to Pan-American Maccabi games and more

The Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association (DHFLA) and Maccabi USA have announced a partnership to help more North Texas Jewish athletes participate in Maccabi World Union games including the upcoming Pan American Maccabi Games in December 2023 in Buenos Aires, future European Maccabi Games and the World Maccabiah Games which take place every four years in Israel. DHFLA will provide no-interest loans to athletes who need assistance covering participation fees and to supporters who wish to attend the games to cheer on their athlete and Team USA.

The partnership came about through conversations between DHFLA Director Jane Larkin and Danny Sirdofsky, Maccabi USA development director, over Shabbat in Tel Aviv in July 2022 during the World Maccabiah Games. Larkin and her husband were on the Maccabi USA mission and supporting their son, who was competing as a member of the USA 18-U boys’ water polo team.

“Competing in the Maccabiah in Israel as part of the U.S. delegation was an amazing opportunity for my son to travel and experience Israel, compete in a sport he loves and deepen his connection to Israel and Judaism,” says Larkin. “My husband and I went to the games as part of Maccabi USA’s supporters mission. Over Shabbat, Danny and I got talking about work and the conversation moved to, ‘How can DHFLA and Maccabi USA potentially partner to ensure all athletes and families can participate in this experience?’”

Larkin and Sirdofsky reconnected when they returned to their offices and Larkin laid out what DHFLA would do to support athletes’ and supporters’ participation in Maccabi programs.

DHFLA’s no-interest Jewish Experience loans help families afford Jewish summer camp, Israel programs and other Jewish experiences such as Maccabi. General loans can be used to help cover travel expenses for supporters. DHFLA will market across greater North Texas that its loans can be used by athletes and families to help them afford participation in Maccabi experiences (Maccabiah World Games, Pan American Games, European Games and Winter Games). In turn, Maccabi USA will refer North Texas athletes and supporters who want or need to manage costs to DHFLA.

Larkin felt that the partnership outlined was easily replicable by other Jewish free loan associations in the U.S. She also knew that all of DHFLA’s sister agencies have the desire to be involved in helping members of the Jewish community of all ages strengthen their Jewish identity and connection to Israel, especially in light of the rise in antisemitism. She emailed the opportunity to work with Maccabi USA to the International Association of Jewish Free Loans (IAJFL) member agencies. Within 45 minutes, every agency in the U.S. and Canada agreed to participate, ensuring that the ability to afford an experience like Maccabi was accessible to Jewish athletes across North America.

In 2022, the cost for a junior athlete to participate in the games in Israel was $8,500 and about $10,000-$15,000 per couple for the mission. “Expensive, as so many immersive Jewish experiences are,” says Larkin. Athletes can apply for need-based scholarships, but scholarships don’t fully cover tuition. Athletes can also fundraise to cover expenses, but not all have the networks or willingness to do this. There is no fundraising option for supporters.

Maccabi USA wants its programs to be accessible for all qualified Jewish athletes. It provides tools to help those in need of financial assistance raise money from family, friends and colleagues. With the partnership with DHFLA and other Hebrew Free Loan Associations (HFLA), there is opportunity to provide athletes with no-interest loans so they can cover costs over a longer period of time. 

The World Maccabiah movement is about deepening Jewish identity and connection through sports and is modeled on the Olympics. The games in Israel, also known as the Jewish Olympics, happen every four years, with the European and Pan American Games taking place every two years. New in 2023 are the Makkabi Deutschland Winter Games featuring Olympic-style winter sports competitions.

Maccabi USA is currently accepting applications for the 2023 Pan American Maccabi Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December. Athletes can apply online at https://maccabiusa.com/panam2023/.

Inspired by her experience supporting her son Sammy, who competed as part of Team USA in 18-U water polo at the Maccabiah in Israel last summer, Jane Larkin, left, Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association executive director, created a collaboration between DHFLA and Maccabi USA to encourage more North Texas athletes to participate in Maccabi Games around the world.

About Maccabi USA

Maccabi USA (MUSA) is a federally-recognized not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization with an extensive history of enriching Jewish lives through athletic, cultural and educational programs. MUSA is the official sponsor of the United States team to the World Maccabiah Games and the Pan American and European Maccabi Games, as well as a sponsor of the JCC Maccabi Games for teens in North America. As the official Maccabi representative in the United States, Maccabi USA supports Jewish athletic endeavors, enhanced by cultural and educational activities in the U.S., Israel and throughout the Diaspora.

Maccabi USA develops, promotes and supports international, national and regional athletic-based activities and facilities. It strives to provide Jewish athletes all over the world the opportunity to share their heritage and customs in competitive athletic settings. MUSA supports programs that embody the Maccabi ideals of Jewish continuity, zionism and excellence in sport. Maccabi USA builds Jewish pride through sports.

Maccabi USA is a US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) affiliate organization, one of 38 affiliates nationwide to be recognized by the USOPC for its ability to cultivate a national interest in sport and increase opportunities for participation internationally, nationally and at the grassroots level. MUSA is rated as a three-star nonprofit by Charity Navigator.

About Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association

For over 87 years, the Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association (DHFLA) has assisted members of the Greater North Texas Jewish community in need by providing interest-free loans.

DHFLA was founded on June 23, 1935, by 14 Jewish business leaders. These prominent members of the Dallas Jewish community pledged $132 to establish a gemilut chasadim or interest-free loan fund and agreed to make loans up to $10 to Dallas Jews in need of assistance.

Today, DHFLA continues to work to create a financially secure North Texas, North Central Texas and East Texas Jewish community by offering no-interest loans to members of the Jewish community in Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Erath, Fannin, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell and Wise counties, and any other county inclusive of Wichita Falls, Texarkana, Tyler, Waco and Longview, Texas.

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