The Macabbi Games have begun, bringing thousands of Jewish teenagers, coaches and family members to the Greater Washington area for a week of competitive sports and events. Organizers, however, want the experience to have Jewish content as well, and when the JCCs hosting the Macabbi games in the Greater Washington area contacted Chabad for help in this area, Rabbi Sholom Raichik, Chabad-Lubavitch representative to Gaithesburg, MD, got the ball rolling.
Setting up shop at a number of the game sites, athletes had opportunities to participate in a variety of activities on Jewish themes. Some 500 of the athletes donned tefillin, says Rabbi Raichik, “200 of them for the first time ever.”
With the help of Chabad-Lubavitch rabbinical students, the athletes have a chance to explore their Jewish identity more closely. During “Hang Time”–in between games, conversations about Judaism unfold as the teenagers take make a kippah or carve a shofar, and taking home winnings no matter how they fared at the games.