“Ma-cca-bi-a.” It’s what our Middle school students chant from the moment they walk into Hillel Torah’s doors at the beginning of the school year. The anticipation and excitement build up until it is finally announced in a legendary breakout.
But what exactly is the hype about the HT Maccabia and what makes it so special?
Maccabia is Hillel Torah’s version of Color War, nicknamed after the Maccabi World Union’s Maccabia or “Jewish Olympics.” Hillel Torah’s two and a half day version falls at different points of each school year, and this year’s event was announced right before the holiday of Tu B’Shvat. Tu B’Shvat, the 15th day of the month of Shvat, recognizes the Jewish new year for all trees, a time of growth and renewal. Similarly, our Maccabia theme was “Connecting to Israel@70,” celebrating this milestone of tremendous growth for the Jewish nation.
Our 2018 Maccabia tagline “עם ישראל בארץ ישראל על פי תורת ישראל“helped divide students into three teams demonstrating what Israel represents: עם – nation, ארץ – land and תורה – the Torah. Each team was assigned information relating to their name and also given a Torah personality and a contemporary who has made aliyah to research and incorporate into their Maccabia activities. Activities included:
- Illustrating a large banner depicting their פסוק
- Drawing specific decades of Israel’s history into a 70 year timeline
- Creating a website and video about their team and projects
- Researching and presenting an Israeli chesed organization
- Interviewing a person who made aliya and lives a life of Torah and mitzvot in Israel
- Preparing a Dvar Torah and unique team song
- Presenting an Israel-related activity for one grade in K-4
- Producing a skit tying in themes of Shevach Ha’aretz, Tu B’Shvat, team theme and their special Israeli personality
- Participating in sports competitions, Stomp, Torah learning and more
For two and a half days, our teachers inspired, taught, guided, supported, infused and created a deep learning and connection for students outside of the classrooms. The energy and excitement was contagious throughout the school as the vibrant team PR decorated our hallways and cheers could be heard from every classroom. Students were involved in so many ways: rehearsing, researching, planning, collaborating and organizing.
On the last day of Maccabia, all the preparation paid off as teams presented before Middle School students and a panel of judges who digitally scored each project, judging content and creativity. The presentations were full of heart, Jewish values and a strong identification with Medinat Yisrael. Regardless of the team that won, all students walked away with more knowledge, enthusiasm and smiles (and less of a voice). We are already looking forward to next year!