Category: Jews & Sports

The Call To Leadership

Posted by March 25, 2019 • Share:

Strength In Character

During the Passover season, we retell the story of our ancestors’ fight to escape from bondage. As the story goes, Moses was minding his own business, tending to his sheep, when he heard his name echoing through the hillside. The voice, it appeared, was coming from a bush that was engulfed in flame without being consumed. This was his call to leadership. Of course, we don’t all get called to our roles as leaders in such grandiose ways.

Moses was asked to stand up in front of the (metaphorical) room and be the voice of his community. This is a very important form of leadership, though certainly not the only form. Each of us is called to leadership in different ways, and being a leader looks different for each of us. Not everyone leads from the front of the room or the top of the leaderboard. Some of us lead from the middle of the group, some from the side, and others step up by stepping back.

In sports, as in life, the greatest leaders are not always the ones with the most media attention or with the most friends on Insta. A recent article about Clippers guard Lou Williams talks about his indispensable role within his team, as a player who has come off the bench for most of his career. He shared that he understood that he was not meant to be the top-scoring player, always in the limelight. His strength was his ability to step into any position on the court and be a rock for his team. He showed true leadership and strength of character by helping his team, the fans, and the world see the importance of knowing yourself and your value. By stepping back from the limelight, he was able to step up into his true role as a leader.*

Leadership may look different to each one of you. But one thing is clear: each of you has the capacity to lead, and each of you is Strong in Character!

* Lou Williams has twice won the 6th Man of the Year Award and is now the all-time leader in bench scoring.
Do you know someone who has displayed Strength in Character in your community? Nominate them now!

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Meet Lauren Bohne

Posted by January 9, 2019 • Share:

Our Team is Growing…Welcome Lauren Bohne, our new Operations Director!

As our community grows, so does our leadership team. We’re very excited to announce that Lauren Bohne has joined us as Operations Director.  

Lauren was born and raised in New York City. She moved to the Bay Area four years ago and while she does not miss the East Coast winters, she does often crave a New York bagel. Here is a bit more info about Lauren’s camp history and even a few fun facts!

Which Kind of Camps Have You Worked at Previously?

Most recently I was the Camp and Youth Director at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael.  While there, I oversaw the growth of Camp Kehillah, the only Jewish day camp in Marin. I have always loved playing outdoors and I’ll take any excuse to wear a rainbow tutu, so my summers have always been dedicated to camping! From a camper to CIT, to counselor, Head Counselor, Unit Supervisor, and Director, I have enjoyed almost every role there is at camp. Day camp, sleep-away camp and travel programs – I’ve experienced them all as a camper and as a staff member. And through it all one thing is clear: life’s most important lessons are learned at Jewish summer camp.

How Has Judaism Fit into Your Camping Work?

I grew up in the Reform Jewish movement, as an active participant in my Temple Youth Group and NFTY. I started my career as the Youth Director at a reform congregation in New York. I have worked in Jewish Day Schools in LA and as an education director in Boston. I have lead retreats, Tikkun Olam-based alternate break experiences and trips to Israel. I have taught every grade in Religious School – these days you can find me hanging out with 1st graders in San Rafael on Sundays.

Tell us a Fun Fact (or three) About Yourself?

Let’s see…I played Field hockey in high school, which required wearing bright orange uniforms. Go Eagles! I am currently on a quest to visit all 60 National Parks. I’ve been to 37 parks so far and 49 of the 50 states – Alaska, I’m coming for you!  Recently I started training for my very first half marathon with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s Team Challenge. It’s a LOT of miles, but it’s a worthy cause.


What are you most excited for this summer?

I am excited for everything! I can’t wait to meet all of the campers and the staff. I am looking forward to song sessions, campfires and the Maccabi Cup! Plus, I am hoping to get some pointers on my jump shots and how to throw a football with a spiral.

Sports Movie Night Checklist

Posted by December 4, 2018 • Share:

Much of the Jewish religion centers around tradition – some dating back thousands of years. Whether it’s observing Shabbat, dipping our Apples in Honey on Rosh Hashanah, or lighting the menorah on Hanukkah, tradition is a key element in keeping our faith alive.

At JCC Maccabi Sports Camp, we too have many traditions. Every first Saturday at camp is dubbed “Sports Movie Night.” Just ask your camper; chances are they will still remember what movie we watched this past summer at camp.

Thankfully the holiday season brings families together to experience some quality time. As we enter the holiday season, we encourage you to find some time to bring a camp tradition into your home by hosting a sports movie night. Pick your favorite sports classic OR we recommend watching the 2003 Disney movie Full Court Miracle (available to stream on Amazon). Full Court Miracle is based on the true story of two real life characters – the University of Virginia basketball star Lamont Carr and the story of Alex Barbag.

Much like the Maccabees, this movie tells the tale of a Jewish, youth basketball team in the face of insurmountable odds and celebrates the miracle of dedication and human courage.

Here are some things you’ll need to make your Camp Sports Movie Night complete:

  • Everyone must wear their PJs and bring a blanket and pillow.
  • Surprise your kids by inviting some of their best buddies without them knowing – maybe a local camp friend!
  • Snacks are essential – popcorn and M&Ms are our typical go-to.
  • Be sure to have a quick “Cabin-Time” after to discuss the movie. Ask things like which character they would want to be and why and talk about the morals within the movie.

We hope your family’s sports movie might is a success! From all of us at JCC Maccabi Sports Camp, we wish you and your family a Happy Hanukkah and a joyous Festival of Lights.

Golden Bagel Award

Posted by November 11, 2015 • Share:

A message from our Board Chair, Rick Gordon:

Josh Steinharter Honored with “Golden Bagel” Award

The Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Northern California will be awarding camp director Josh Steinharter with the Golden Bagel Award this Sunday, November 15, 2015. The Golden Bagel is an honor bestowed upon individuals who have made a significant impact in sports and the Jewish community in Northern California.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 4.37.18 PMSince moving to San Francisco in 2005, Josh has been a coach, a program director, a mentor, and is now the founder and director of JCC Maccabi Sports Camp. The reason Josh is receiving this award has little to do with the titles he has held, and more to do with the impact he has made with his actions. In all of Josh’s endeavors he has acted with integrity and has shaped our community’s children by leading by example.

In doing so, Josh has shown so many young people that they can channel various aspects of their character and Jewish identity through sport.

I share Josh’s feelings that there is something uniquely special about sports; it can involve anyone and everyone and it can teach us so much about ourselves and the world around us. Josh helps kids experience this and notice it for their own self-reflection and development of their character. This is the mission we hold near and dear to us as JCC Maccabi Sports Camp, and as a result, wonderful outcomes happen every day of the summer.

I am excited to see the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame celebrating Josh’s unwavering commitment and achievements. It makes me very proud to serve on the boards of both of these organizations.

If you’re interested in supporting the great work of Josh and the JCC Maccabi Sport Camp team, please consider making a contribution.

Rick Gordon
Board Chair

Judah Maccabee and Maccabi Sports

Posted by December 15, 2014 • Share:

During Hanukkah we tell the story of a military victory, that of Judah (also known as Judah the Maccabee) leading the Maccabee army against King Antiochus (who was demanding that the Jews pray to the Greek gods.) Judah and the Maccabees were strong fighters against the King’s army and were victorious, driving them all the way out of Jerusalem.  After their victory, the Maccabees cleaned the Temple and found enough oil to light the menorah for only one day, but miraculously it lasted for 8 days.

Now, you might ask, is JCC Maccabi Sports Camp named after Judah Maccabee?  Well, sort of, but it’s more complicated than that. Judah and the Maccabees didn’t compete in sports like soccer, baseball, basketball, or tennis,  but they were an example of a group of Jews who were physically strong, successful, and stood by their values.

The connection with the term “Maccabee” and sports came later in history with a man named Max Nordau, who coined the term “muscular Judaism” in 1898 at the Second Zionist Congress; Nordau believed that Jews should be strong and physically fit instead of relying solely on our brains.  Shortly after that time, sports clubs for Jews in Germany, Russia, and Eastern Europe became popular and were often named Maccabee to show Jews as strong and successful in competition.  The name “Maccabee” or “Maccabi” (the Hebrew pronunciation) stuck and has now become very common amongst Jewish sports groups from around the world, such as Israeli basketball and soccer teams, the U.S.-based JCC Maccabi Games for teens, and the Maccabiah held every 4 years in Israel for Jewish athletes from around the world.

JCC Maccabi Sports Camp is proud to have Maccabi in our title as it signifies not only strength but also commitment to ones ideals, just like Judah Maccabee.


For a more thorough historical account, read this article from the 2012 Chanukah edition of the Jweekly: How the Maccabee Moniker Moved into the Sports Arena.

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