THE 34th Maccabi Junior Carnival kicked off on Tuesday, with more than 400 athletes from around Australia and New Zealand descending on Sydney for the week-long sporting and social event.
Held in a different city each year, Carnival this year includes an athletics carnival, outdoor and indoor sports, a harbour cruise, a pool and foam party, a community volunteering day, Shabbat services, an obstacle course challenge and more.
“We’re really excited to be able to host it again … it is very much a community event and no better example of that is the fact that the visiting athletes from interstate are hosted in the homes of our athletes,” Maccabi NSW president Danny Hochberg told The AJN.
“They are embraced by our community and get to experience living with another family.”
He said the brilliance of Carnival is that it’s a social event built around sport.
“Ultimately it provides youth between 12-16 the opportunity to meet other Jewish youth and connect with them, not only from their own state but interstate as well,” Hochberg said.
The event also helps bring the NSW community closer together.
“We have communities in the south-east and north. The south-east has grown and it’s very important to connect all of those communities in NSW,” he added.
This year there is a small team from New Zealand, as well as teams from Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland.
Speaking to The AJN at the opening ceremony, NSW participant Jay Hirschowitz, 14, said he is looking forward to “meeting new friends, getting to know everyone, having fun, and the sport”.
“I’m really excited to show my Melbourne friends Sydney, to show them what Sydney has to offer,” said Hirschowitz, who participated in Carnival in Melbourne last year.
He said a great thing about Carnival is the lasting friendships that are formed with participants.
“I’m meeting people from Perth, New Zealand, friends I’m going to remember forever, that’s just amazing to know Jewish boys from around the world,” Hirschowitz said.
Carnival youth leader Joel Grunstein said this is the first time that all the youth leaders aren’t separated by states.
“We’re all wearing the same colour, we’re all one team. It’s an awesome dynamic … you work as a team, it’s a group effort,” Grunstein told The AJN.
He said Carnival “brings everyone naches”.
“It brings even my mother naches to have me [participating],” Grunstein said. “She did Carnival when she was a girl, I did Carnival, I led on Carnival, I’m leading again … it’s a really good thing for the community to bond on.”