2000 teens, athletes and artists, came to the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie/Cooper City, Florida for the annual JCC Maccabi Games and Artsfest.
Festivities began on Sunday, August 9 with over 10,000 people in attendance at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.
More than 500 local residents opened their homes for the participants arriving from Israel, Australia, Poland, Mexico, Great Britain, Canada and throughout the United States.
From baseball to soccer, basketball, tennis, swimming and even table tennis, teenagers aged 13-16 competed for gold medals in all sorts of sports, dance and art competitions.
Rabbi Pinny and Gitty Andrusier, the Chabad Shluchim in Southwest Broward, were among the more than 1000 volunteers.
For the entire week they too hosted five of the guest athletes. Three of teenagers, Sammy Novick (tennis), Nathan Sonn (table tennis) and Dylan Gordon (soccer) made the special trip from England.
Each morning before setting out for their games Rabbi Andrusier helped the boys put on tefilin assuring it will help their performance and team.
As promised, the first 2 days saw Great Britain winning all four of their soccer matches in blowout fashion with Gordon scoring the most goals for his squad.
“Rabbi, tomorrow I think I’m going to only put on the head piece,” said Gordon. When asked why, he jokingly replied, “because the tefilin are working too good and we need to show ‘rachmanus’ (compassion).”
Due to their daily tefilin and brilliant play, Dylan and his British teammates beat Philadelphia 7-0 in the final to take the gold. Nathan and Sammy also won medals in their respective sports.
In addition, a Chabad Cteen booth was set up at the JCC offering teens a daily arts and crafts mitzvah project, the opportunity to put on tefilin and say a quick prayer. More than 1000 players, coaches and guests stopped by the popular station to don Tefilin.
Event co-chairs Lori Green and Debby Eisinger made sure to secure a prime location for the Tefilin stand. “Chabad is always a mainstay at the annual JCC games. We both realize the importance and how much it does for the teens”.
Some of the teens prayed for their family, an ill relative, said a prayer for Israel and the Jewish people while some asked for a win in their upcoming competition.
“It’s all fine!” said Rabbi Nossen Fellig of Cteen who traveled from New York to man the stand and assist the eager youths wishing to perform the mitzvah of the day.
Jared Freedman, 16, of Copper City, who was participating in his fourth Maccabi games, made sure to stop by the Tefillin stand each morning before his game.
During one game, Jared sent the gymnasium into pandemonium as he hit the buzzer beating shot in the semi finals vs. North Miami Beach. He then played a key role in his team winning the gold medal against Los Angeles.
Showing his medal, Freeman exclaimed with a broad smile, “Tefilin works!”