Next year will be a very special one for Jews in Omaha. For the second time this decade, the Jewish Community Center will host the JCC Maccabi Games.
The last community-wide effort in 2002 earned Omaha acclaim across America for the spectacular results that were achieved. The Games can be said to be the Jewish equivalent to a Junior Olympics, with the student participants coming from all parts of the United States and Israel.
To launch the “Maccabi Year,” the JCC and the Henry Monsky Lodge of B’nai B’rith will team up with Maccabi youth during the Lodge’s annual Hanukkah Run, this year to be held on Sunday, Dec. 13. The program will bring sports and Judaic programming together, as it expresses the values of both the Maccabi Movement and B’nai B’rith: “the continuity of the Jewish People, the love for Israel, freedom and independence.”
To promote this upcoming event, more than 50 students will carry the Maccabi Olympic Torch and will weave their way through a five-mile course that circles the JCC. They will be joined by 20 Lodge members and others to celebrate the holiday and the upcoming games.
This event shares a unique history for every year since 1944, the Maccabi World Union and the Maccabi Tzair Youth Movement in Israel have conducted a traditional torch relay that takes place during Hanukkah. The torch is lit at the graves of the biblical Maccabees in Israel and travels through the Jewish state and the Diaspora symbolizing the spiritual reunion of the Jewish people.
Likewise, since the 1980s, the Monsky Lodge has also promoted Hanukkah themes in an annual run that has highlighted, for example, the Jewish fight against persecution or terror or celebrated “350 years of Jews living free in America.”
The Dec. 13 torch run is open to the entire Jewish community. Participants will meet at the JCC’s southwest entrance at 9 a.m. The event begins at 9:30 a.m.
Together runners/walkers will follow the five-mile route with JCC vans following behind. Any participant who feels tired or is unable to run/walk the entire route may elect to ride in the van at any time. At the conclusion of the run/walk at approximately 10:15 a.m., members of the community are invited to line the parking lot of the JCC. They will officially greet the Torch as it arrives in Omaha and welcome runners/walkers as they finish. A symbolic lighting of the menorah will then take place in the JCC and refreshments will be served.
Adults who wish to enter may send an $18 check, (Non Maccabi athletes may enter for $10), payable to Henry Monsky Lodge B’nai B’rith C/O Jenny Gordon, 333 So. 132 St., Omaha, NE 68154. The Run/Walk is free to all registered JCC Maccabi Games athletes, who need to register by Dec. 6 with Diane Malashock at 590.2143.
For more information, please contact Jenny Gordon at 334.6443. General registration can be completed up to Dec. 13; however, to guarantee the special souvenir T-shirt, all applications need to be in to Jenny by Dec. 1.