As the city’s singular representative, Eytan Arbiture proudly paraded a Milwaukee sign at the Opening Ceremony of the 41st JCC Maccabi Games this July in Haifa, Israel.
Following the ceremony, the 14-year-old Fox Point native went on to play basketball in the weeklong, Jewish youth sporting event against teens from across the globe.
This year was the second time that the JCC Maccabi Games were held in Israel; the first time was 2011. Over 1,000 teens from 10 countries made up the 74 delegations at this year’s Games.
Arbiture was part of the J-Team delegation, which was composed of teens from smaller cities who did not have enough participants from their local JCCs to form unique groups.
“I felt like I was representing our JCC and I really liked that,” Arbiture reflected.
After the competition ended, Arbiture and his fellow competitors embarked on a two-week journey around Israel where they visited places like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Tiberias, along with swimming in the Dead Sea and spending the night in Bedouin tents.
Arbiture says the organization also performed bar and bat mitzvahs in the Old City of Jerusalem for teens who did not yet have their own ceremonies.
“There were a lot of things that were really, really fun, but my favorite part had to be seeing the sunrise on Masada,” Arbiture said.
Arbiture has been visiting family in Israel every summer since he can remember, so when the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center asked him if he would be interested in the opportunity to take part in the games, Arbiture felt the experience would be a good way to spend some of his time there.
Arbiture said he loves going to Israel each summer and that, “I feel like when I go there, I get to refuel my love and my passion for Judaism and just get a refresher to be in our homeland.”
The JCC Maccabi Games are run by the JCC Association of North America and the Maccabi World Union, in conjunction with support from several other organizations and sponsors.
“The JCC Maccabi Games are perhaps the most extraordinary Jewish peoplehood initiative of our time. Drawing teens from JCC communities across North America, Israel, and around the globe, the Games bring us together through competition, service, and a profound encounter with the wider Jewish world,” said Doron Krakow, president and CEO of the JCC Association of North America, in a statement preceding the games.