Maccabi: Plenty of work before 'Game on, y'all'
Photo: Sharon Wisch-Ray Volunteer chairs Melissa Ackerman (seated) and Myra Prescott with volunteer and host mom Debbie Weinstein looking on

By Ben Tinsley

DALLAS — Want to attend the opening ceremonies of JCC Maccabi Games on Sunday, Aug. 2? Event officials are insisting you get registered and credentialed ASAP.
“The Games are open to anyone who wishes to be there — but security will be tight,” explained Cathy Brook, a vice chair of administration.
With over 5,000 people expected to attend the Opening Ceremonies and Parade of Athletes of the JCC Maccabi Games on Sunday, event officials are insisting absolutely everyone — attendees and volunteers — head to the nearest computer and make sure their names show up on the official registered list.
“It’s really important that all the people involved in the games — all the host families and volunteers and staff — do so,” Brook said. “And again, it is open to everyone, but you have to register as a spectator on our website.”
The JCC Maccabi Games run Aug. 2-7. Athletes from around the world are coming to Dallas in compete in sports such as baseball, basketball, dance, tennis, swimming golf, boys and girls soccer, table tennis and girls volleyball.
This is the second Maccabi event in Dallas. The first took place here in 2005.
The list of 2015 Dallas Maccabi’s who, what, when, where, why and how is daunting —  340 host families, 300 local athletes, 40,000 bottles of water, 4,500 pounds of ice, 1,000 volunteers, 1,000 visiting athletes, and 300 coaches and delegation heads. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“It’s like putting together a 5,000-piece puzzle, piece by piece,” said 2015 Dallas Maccabi Games Co-chair Ruthie Shor. “Now we’re down to the last couple of hundred pieces.  Now, our first delegation drive Thursday at the J at 4 p.m.  … So, here we go on this amazing journey.”
2015 Dallas Maccabi Games Co-chair Dan Prescott said the process of organizing this event started two and a half years ago.
“There have been thousands and thousands and thousands of volunteer hours put in by hundred and hundreds of volunteers plus staff,” Prescott said. “We still have a lot of work to do with the final details right now. But the level of commitment from the volunteers, the chairs, everybody that has been here has been yeoman’s work. There have been tremendous details, difficult work but what makes it easy is the incredible level of volunteerism.”
Organizers seem to be exerting (in their own way) efforts reminiscent of the actual Maccabi game participants. According to event literature, Maccabi participants will focus on the Jewish values of Rachmanus, or compassion, during the competition; tikkun olam, repairing the world, during the community service project known as “JCC Cares;” and amiut  Yehudit, Jewish peoplehood, during unique experiences that strengthen their connection to each other, their communities, and Israel.
The overall object is to transcend the Games — which have offered over 100,000 Jewish teens a unique life experience since 1982. It is to strengthen the entire community, empower the next generation of leaders and celebrate values and traditions.
Meanwhile, Co-chair Shor said she hopes this Herculean effort of organization has brought the community closer together — a sentiment shared by Steve Schneider, vice chair for athletics.
“This is something I believe in deeply,” Schneider said. “These games are a wonderful experience for the athletes and the coaches and visiting delegations but also a tremendous community building opportunity for Dallas. We have partners like the Hockaday School, Greenhill School, Parish Episcopal School, Episcopal School of Dallas, Akiba Academy and Richardson High School as well as private businesses like Prestonwood Country Club and Sportsplex at Valley View.”
Schneider said the incoming delegations will see excellent facilities and the fact that the Greater Dallas community is committed to supporting these games.
Hopefully, Schneider said, the entire experience, will build positive relationships between everyone — and entities — involved.
“What makes these games so special is not just the competition but the competition within the framework of Jewish values, sportsmanship and compassion,” he said. “You can only have one gold medal in a peak sport but everyone can be a champion.”
2015 Dallas Maccabi Games Co-chair Wendy Stanley said one of the most remarkable things accomplished during this organization process is the recruitment and organization of a superlative steering committee to move the process along.
“Really, our greatest success was to organize that top notch steering committee allowing us to succeed in all of our planning,” Stanley said. “This has been the nuts and bolts of the game — spending time planning and picking  and receiving. I have learned firsthand the level of detail involved in planning something this large. No one could imagine the level of detail involved.”
Together, Cathy Brook and Cheryl Weitz are both vice chairs of administration overseeing housing volunteers and registration.
Brook said efforts right now constitute the final push.
“We are getting our 4,000 slots for our 1,000 volunteers all completed.… That’s a really important number,” she said. “We have also had 340 families who have offered to host (teens) during the games — and are in the final stages of matching all visiting athletes to homes in Dallas.  We will kick off the whole games on Sunday at Moody Coliseum.”
Brook and Schneider said there is a lot of excitement in the air.
“It’s spine tingling,” Schneider said.

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