By Cindy Mindell
STAMFORD – The Stamford JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest are just four months away. Local athletic tryouts are wrapping up, artists are submitting application videos, host families are signing up to open their homes to visiting participants, and volunteers are being recruited to help with the myriad tasks that go into the running of the week-long international event.
The Stamford Jewish community is preparing for 1,500 athletes and artists representing more than 45 delegations from around the U.S. and throughout the world. Some 6,000 spectators are expected to fill the stands of the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport for the Aug. 7 Opening Ceremonies. Among the countless calculations coming out of Stamford JCC Maccabi HQ, director Rachel Rothman estimates that some 86,400 bottles of water will be downed during the week of sports competitions and arts workshops.
Between schoolwork and extra-curricular activities, local teens are gearing up to represent Team Stamford, many of them already Maccabi veterans.
This will be the third event for Stamford High School freshman and swimmer Sam Diamond, who first competed in the 2014 Games in Cherry Hill, N.J., returning the following year to swim in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“The most enjoyable part was meeting new people from all over the world, such as Mexico, Israel, and Australia,” he says, a major selling point of the event. “I would recommend this experience to other teens because it is a lot of fun getting to meet new people, playing or participating in Olympic-style sports or arts, and you get to experience new places every year you participate. Also, you stay in someone else’s home so you get to meet them and explore the new area with someone who knows it.”
Stamford resident Caroline Feldman is a junior at the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering. She competed as a swimmer in 2013 in Irvine, Calif. and joined Diamond in Fort Lauderdale last summer. This year, she will participate in the Maccabi ArtsFest as a Star Reporter.
“The best part for me is meeting people from all over,” Feldman says. “I have friends from Australia, Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Great Britain, and Israel. As a swimmer, you get to race against so many people from so many places, and it makes you feel so cool when you’re next to someone from a different country. But then in your down time, while you wait for your next event, you get to bond with other teams and talk to them, and bond with your own team.”
To see the latest on the Stamford JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest: jccmaccabistamford.org / (203) 487-0949.
CAP: Sam Diamond