The Capital Region JCC Maccabi Games are a torch-relay away from Sunday's opening ceremonies at the Times Union Center.
Twenty-one delegations including more than 750 athletes with teams from around the U.S. will be joined by international teams representing Israel, Canada and Mexico, all in town for the Capital Region games running August 6-11. 16-year-old Brogan Monroe is a fourth-year participant who has won several medals for swimming and sportsmanship. "I've been like a member at the JCC since I was really young. My camp director, 'cause I went to camp there, actually told me about the Maccabi games. And he told me that it would not only benefit our JCC but it would be a really nice experience for myself. Going into it, I had no idea it was gonna be the way it was. I didn't realize it was as big of an event that it actually is. It's really fun!"
The T-U Center is hosting the traditional Olympic-style kickoff for the sporting competition for Jewish teens, 13 to 16 years old, Sunday at 7. "Each delegation walks in and they march in with their banner and come through — it's really cool."
Held each summer in North America, the games are the second-largest organized sports program for Jewish youth in the world. Adam Chaskin is Executive Director of the Sidney Albert Albany JCC. "We'll have nine different sports going on throughout the week and with teenagers from all over the world, literally, so that they will get to meet people from obviously all over the country and world and have athletic competition and social events in the evening, and also throughout the week be participating in community service projects."
Robyn Easton is a mom and a host who welcomes visiting athletes into her Delmar home. "We have a swimmer, a basketball player, an ice hockey player, a star reporter, which is also what my daughter Emily is, a star reporter. So we thought this would be a great opportunity for her to see that there's more to our community than just Albany, New York. That we are global..."
The Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates the games will generate a $1.8 million economic impact for the Capital Region.
Chaskin notes tickets for the opening ceremonies and the games are free for area residents — but you have to register first at www.CapitalRegionJCCMaccabi.org