Be a Host, Do a Mitzvah!

Athlete Housing for the Games

As hundreds of athletes travel to Columbus this summer, host families will step up to make a home-away-from-home for visiting athletes. Not only is hosting a good way to help out, it will create lasting friendships and make the Maccabi experience the best it can be for everyone.

Parents of local athletes provide housing for at least two visiting athletes, but the need for housing does not end there. The JCC Maccabi Games will require the combined efforts of the entire community. Those with younger children, older teens, or empty nests make great host families! “I’ll be housing two myself and my own kids are so excited about it!” says Jenny Slate Grischkan. “It’s really cool for the little guys to live with the ‘big kids’ for a few days, cheer them on, and look forward to participating in their own Maccabi Games some day.”

When the delegations arrive on Sunday, July 24, host families will meet their athletes at the JCC. Host families will provide a meal in between their arrival and the Opening Ceremonies on Sunday. Lunches and dinners will be provided by the JCC Monday through Friday; however, host families will need to feed athletes breakfast before dropping them off at the JCC each morning. Host families can also drop off athletes at JCC New Albany or Beth Tikvah to take a bus to the College Ave location.

Athletes spend their entire day at the JCC or other venues where competitions and social events are held. That means there is no need to feed or entertain your guest athletes from 8 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. One exception is Tuesday eveninHost Familyg which is Host Family Night! On Tuesday host families plan dinner for the athletes and take them out to a movie, ice cream, Clippers game, or any activity around Columbus that you choose. “Hosting athletes in 1999 and again in 2004 was really fun,” says former JCC Maccabi Games Chair Heidi Levey. “Everyone knew each other. On my street, almost every house was housing JCC Maccabi athletes. We all kind of did it together and helped plan for it.”

Host families do not have to be JCC members, but they do need to be local Jewish families with a bed (or air mattress) for each athlete they plan to host. A minimum of two athletes is hosted by each family. Host families have access to attend all the competitions during the week and are encouraged to cheer on their visiting athletes. Host families can also volunteer in other positions during the week!

“It’s an opportunity to do a mitzvah and open your home for visiting athletes from the United States, Israel, Mexico, and Canada,” says Karen Shore Meyer, co-chair of the 2016 JCC Maccabi Games. Not only will you open your home, you’ll develop friendships that last a life-time!

It’s not too late to host! The Housing Committee is still looking for host families for over 100 athletes. If you or a friend are interested, you can find more information and sign-up to host by visiting

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