Member Spotlight: Marc Newman
Marc Newman, Delegation Chair, JCC Maccabi Games
For over 20 years, Marc Newman has been the face of JCC Maccabi here at the Alpert JCC. The JCC Maccabi Games are an Olympic-style sporting competition held each summer in North America. It is the second largest organized sports program for Jewish teenagers in the world. An active JCC member since 1977, Marc first came to the JCC after his divorce in 1977 because, he explains, “I needed a place to go to meet Jewish people. I joined the Jewish singles and I never looked back. I met a lot of people here and made a lot of friends. When I remarried, the kids were coming here for camp and swimming and I got involved with their activities.” Then, in 1994, Marc got the call that would change his life and his connection to the J. “Marvin Nachlis called and invited me to coach Maccabi basketball, and I’ve been doing it ever since. Marvin and I coached basketball together for about 14 years.
“There were a few years that we were on hiatus because we didn’t have a large enough team. When Jeffrey Rips became the Executive Director in 2013, it was really important to him to see it start up again, and Jeffrey has done a great job of getting Maccabi back up and running. I tried but had a really difficult time. Jeffrey really helped get the board to support Maccabi. And of course, I was very excited to be back coaching again. I really love it. I’ve watched kids grow up who are now doing amazing things with their lives.
“For me,” Marc continues, “Maccabi starts with the Jewish holidays and ends in August with the Games. It’s my responsibility to make sure the kids are housed, transported, and ready to leave. It’s a lot of coordinating, but it’s so worthwhile. It’s all about the kids. It’s watching 3000 Jewish kids who didn’t know each other at the beginning of Maccabi week become friends for life. You can see the difference in them by the end of the week—when they leave, all the kids are intermingling. It’s just an amazing sight.”
ArtsFest was added to the Maccabi Games a few years back and that’s also a priceless opportunity for kids to really grow. JCC Maccabi ArtsFest is a weeklong summer arts experience for creative Jewish teens ages 13-17, featuring workshops in a variety of specialties with some of the leading artists in each field and incorporating community service, social activities, and themes of Jewish heritage, community, and Israel.
The JCC Maccabi Games/ArtsFest is truly a transformative week for the participants. They meet kids from all over the United States and even other countries. Participating countries include Israel, Great Britain, Mexico, Panama, and others. “One year,” adds Marc, “there were even kids from Poland who came to play in the Games. The kids have a fantastic time, and they are often really upset that they can’t come back the next year because they aged out [participants are ages 13-16]. And of course they love it because it’s a week away from their parents!”
In 2018, the Maccabi Games and ArtsFest will be in Southern California. The Alpert JCC is going to host the ArtsFest portion here in Long Beach, and Marc will be the chair for the Long Beach delegation: “I’m very excited to be the delegation chair and thrilled that ArtsFest is going to be here in Long Beach next year. I’ve wanted this ever since it started. It will be the first time that the Maccabi Games and ArtsFest are hosted separately by sister JCCs (Merage JCC in Orange County is hosting the Maccabi Games). It’s going to be great. I have a grandchild who will be 13 in December, so I’m really hoping that he’ll participate next year!”