Maccabia, Not Color War

Posted July 11, 2015 by

By Sarah Magida, Chief Fun Officer

Jay Color WarIt’s a good day at camp when I’m covered in face paint before lunch.  Earlier this week I found myself with my face painted half red and half blue at 10:30 in the morning.  It was Community Time, and we were kicking off Maccabia for this session.

Maccabia is often called Color War, and in this sense, Community Time might seem like an odd choice of when to hold Maccabia competitions.  However, Color War is a very loose translation.  The word actually comes from the same root as Maccabee (the group of Jews who fought against the Syrian-Greek Empire in the story of Hanukkah).  The lessons of the Hanukkah story are lessons that we want the campers to come away learning.  The Maccabees were a small group of people who believed strongly in their cause.  Because of this belief, they were able to come together and overcome their adversaries.  Community Time is a time of day when we want the whole camp to be together.  It is a time when we want our campers to be working together towards a goal that is separate from their businesses.

Maccabia facilitates all of these things.  The campers are divided into two teams (red and blue), but they need to work together with their teams to accomplish various tasks.  For example, we had a Sing Down earlier this week, in which each team needed to come up with as many unique songs containing the word “love” and the word “peace” as they could and then sing them as a team to earn points.  Additional points are awarded for sportsmanship, while points will be taken away for taunting the other team.  Maccabia is not Color War, precisely because it focuses on teaching teamwork and promoting sportsmanship, rather than placing the emphasis on competition.  I hope that because of this all of our campers will walk away feeling like they have accomplished something of which they can be proud.

Sarah Magida is our Chief Fun Officer.  She has her Masters in Religious Education and Masters in Jewish Nonprofit Management from Hebrew Union College.  She is also a graduate of Skidmore College where she studied American Studies and Religious Studies.  She spent 11 summers as a camper and staff member at the URJ Eisner Camp.  Sarah prides her self on completing the NY Times crossword puzzle each Monday.