Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies

Building Jewish Pride Through Sports: An Evaluation of the Impact of Competing in the World Maccabiah Games

Michelle Shain, Shahar Hecht, Naomi Weinblatt, and Leonard Saxe

October 2018

Building Jewish Pride Through Sports publication coverThe Maccabiah Games attract thousands of Jewish athletes from around the world to Israel every four years. As part of the Maccabiah experience, Maccabi USA organizes a seven day educational-cultural travel program in Israel for US athletes prior to the athletic competition. Called “Israel Connect,” this program is designed to strengthen athletes’ Jewish identities and instill in them the passion and knowledge necessary to advocate for Israel. This study examines the athletes’ reactions to the seven-day program as well as the extent to which the entire Maccabiah experience altered the Jewish trajectories of the US Jewish athletes who participated.