All About Maccabi
Maccabi is an International Jewish & Sports organization that has dozens of locations throughout the world, including one at the MAR-JCC in Aventura. A part of Maccabi is a program called Pre-Som, which stands for “Pre-School of Madrichim”. This program educates young individuals, specifically ninth graders, on the importance of being a Jew, the State of Israel, and their Jewish identities. After Pre-Som, tenth-graders have the opportunity to continue in the Maccabi program and be a part of SOM, which stands for “School of Madrichim”. Eventually, one has the opportunity to be a Madrich, where they are able to educate younger generations about what they learned in Maccabi.
Teens participating in the program come from a variety of schools, including Scheck Hillel. For the kids who don’t attend a Jewish school, this program teaches them about Judaism itself and how to become more active in the Jewish community. For kids who do attend Jewish school, this program enriches the education they are getting, providing them with additional opportunities that can’t be found in other places.
What is Pre-Som?
Pre-Som is a program designed specifically for ninth-graders. Throughout the year, the participants learn about Maccabi and what it means to be a leader, how to work as a team, and basic information about Judaism and Israel. “I’ve learned in Pre-Som that being in a Jewish community is important,” says Alexandra Berenstein. “So far, from Pre-Som I have learned about leadership, community care, kindness, friendship, and teamwork,” states Gila Shechter. Pre-Som takes place every Monday from 6-8 at the MAR-JCC in Aventura. During this two-hour period, the participants partake in activities that teach important skills, such as teamwork, leadership, and communication. Pre-Som gives ninth-graders a unique experience that cannot be found in many other places. participants have the opportunity to bond with other participants from other schools that they haven’t met before, and they have the opportunity to become a leader in Maccabi only a few years after. The people who run the program are previous members of Pre-Som, which makes the participants feel more connected to them. “I love how the Madrichim are there because they wanna be, and not because they have to,” remarks Frida Alalu.
Every activity that is done during Pre-Som is created by the Madrichim. These activities teach the participants all about teamwork, problem solving, communication, and Jewish knowledge. For example, at one Pre-Som meeting this year, participants sat in a circle on chairs and laid their backs on the person sitting to the left of them. One by one, the chairs were removed from beneath them, and the participants had to rely on the person beside them to hold them up. “We do activities that show us how to cooperate together and really communicate,” says Frida Alalu, “the activities help us feel more connected as a whole.” After completing each activity, the group discusses what lessons and values can be derived from what they did. “We do activities that show us how to work together as a team, and sometimes we do activities that are just for fun and to get to know each other better,” states Alex Benarroch. Different days at Pre-Som revolve around different values or concepts. For example, one day could be spent playing games that involve communication while another day is based on Jewish morals.
Impact of Pre-Som
Pre-Som is a program that not only teaches guides young leaders, but also connects people from different schools and creates friendships. “From Pre-Som I learn the value of Judaism and how lucky I am to be part of a Jewish community. From the activities we do, I learn the value of teamwork and friendship” Frida Alalu states. At the beginning of the program, the activities are more focused on getting to know one another. Eventually, the activities focus more on characteristics that are crucial for a leader to have, such as teamwork, communication, and leadership. Considering that many people who participate in Pre-Som are from different schools, a lot of kids enter Pre-Som without knowing many people. At every regular Pre-Som meeting, the Madrichim separate the participants into two random groups for the activities. “I have made so many friends from Pre-Som, and I have reconnected with friends from before that I hadn’t talked to in a while which is amazing!” says Gila Shechter. They form the groups in such a way so that the participants get the opportunity to meet new people, expanding their relationships beyond their school friends. Because of this, many new friendships form and continue even after Pre-Som.
Pre-Som and Community Service and Raising Money
Pre-Som is very heavily focused on community service and tikun olam, which means to repair the world. Pre-Som participants have numerous opportunities to volunteer at the JCC, and they earn community service hours for their help. “In Pre-Som we are given the opportunity to engage and be a part of our community,” states David Delarosa. Pre-Som goes on two main trips during the year; in October, they go to Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, and in June, they fly to Costa Rica. At many JCC events, members of Pre-Som raise money for their trips. This teaches the participants the value of hard work, and they can see tangible results.
Who should do Pre-Som?
Pre-Som is an amazing program that provides many opportunities. People that participate in Pre-Som gain lifelong friends and learn values and morals that stay with them forever. Future leaders are created after Pre-Som, and the traits they learn are spread throughout the community. Everyone should try Pre-Som because they would gain a lot of knowledge which could help them throughout their life, and it is an unforgettable experience.