120 families are still needed to house visiting athletes for the sixth Detroit Maccabi Games.

This summer, Detroit will host an Olympic-style sporting competition for Jewish athletes from all over the country. That’s right; the Maccabi Games are coming to Detroit this August — for the sixth time, the most of any host city.

Some 1,360 athletes will participate in the Detroit games, Aug. 4-9. About 1,160 are not local and will need to stay with host families. Of a total 428 host families required for the out-of-town athletes, 120 families, including 279 beds, are still needed.

In August 2018, Abby Chayet of West Bloomfield traveled to Orange County, Calif., to participate in her first Maccabi Games. Abby is a competitive dancer and had a great experience at her first games, due in part to her hosts, the Herson family, including their two young daughters, Brooklyn and Becca.

Abby and her family still keep in touch with the Hersons and are planning a trip to California to visit them. Her mother, Fawn Chayet, could not say enough about how great Abby’s host family was. “I call Alison, the mom, my ‘California sister’,” she said.

A self-proclaimed Maccabi veteran, Brett Rubenfire of West Bloomfield currently works as a Maccabi associate, but has had his share of experiences both as an athlete and a host family for the games.

His favorite Maccabi experience as an athlete was when he was 15 years old and stayed with a widowed grandmother in Denver, Colo. “She was the best grandma I could ask for, other than my real grandma,” Rubenfire said. “I like telling this story because a lot of older people think they don’t have what it takes to host an athlete, but they can. It was the most fun a 70-year-old woman and three 15-year-old boys ever had together.”

In 2014, Rubenfire and his family hosted three girls from the 92nd Street Y in New York. “They were so much fun,” Rubenfire said. “We stayed up all night watching Disney movies, and my family took them to Buddy’s Pizza and made them try Sander’s hot fudge. I was a Maccabi veteran at that point and could tell them what to expect, which was really cool.”

Shari Ferber Kaufman of Orchard Lake has been hosting Maccabi athletes for as long as she can remember. “It has to have been at least 20 years,” she said. “As soon as I had a house to host in, I did. I love children and being able to host a Jewish athlete in a Jewish home is a way to give them a sort of home away from home.”

Although Ferber Kaufman didn’t know any of the athletes prior to hosting them, she keeps in contact with many of them. “These boys from Venezula we hosted a number of years ago contacted us on Facebook saying what a great experience they had with Maccabi and thanking us for being so open and caring for them,” she said. “They said they were one of many athletes for us, but we were their only host family and we made their experience special, and that was really heartwarming.”

The Ferber Kaufman family has been asked to host the entire Israeli delegation of about 20 athletes this summer and are strongly considering it. They have five children of their own who also participated in the games.

To find out more, visit maccabidetroit2019.com.