When it comes to extending a welcome mat for Maccabi Youth Games athletes, artists and their families, none has matched the Detroit Jewish community’s creativity, resourcefulness, hospitality — or frequency. Beginning Sunday and running through Aug. 9, the Maccabi Games will be staged here for the sixth time since 1984.
As preparations are finalized for the grand opening event at the new and impressive Little Caesars Arena, we endure pangs of nostalgia when recalling the opening event in 1990 at the once new — and soon to be demolished — Palace of Auburn Hills. So much has happened in our city, region and Jewish community within that 30-year timeframe.
We have a resurgent Downtown Detroit and Woodward Corridor. The Detroit Pistons romp the hardwood above the Little Caesars Arena ice. The great north and northwestern migration of the Jewish community has stopped, with young families choosing leafy inner-ring communities like Huntington Woods, Royal Oak and Ferndale over traditional bedroom communities like West Bloomfield and Farmington Hills. Thanks in part to Federation’s successful Neighborhood Project, portions of Oak Park and Southfield have retained and expanded traditional Jewish infrastructure and the populations to support it.
We currently have a metropolitan Jewish population of about 72,000, a number that has stabilized in recent years. While not quite as magnetic as nearby Chicago or more distant New York and Los Angeles, affordable Detroit’s vibe and expanding job opportunities are helping to fuel a surge in the number of Jewish young adults who are moving here … or staying put after college graduation. And what all who come to Detroit discover — whether as new residents or visitors — is a remarkable array of Jewish communal services, programs and agencies dedicated to every part of the lifecycle.
The upcoming Maccabi Games are a labor of love for Jewish Detroit. Professionals and volunteers have been sweating the details for the past two years. From retaining competition venues to recruiting host families, from mapping out team delegation logistics to providing safe environments, the overarching objective is to offer our visiting athletes, families and guests a fun experience and opportunities to create friendships that will last a lifetime.
Hopefully, you’ll use some of your free time to explore more of what Detroit and this region (which include Ann Arbor and Canada) have to offer. Perhaps you’ll consider coming back for a more extensive visit. Maybe, someday, you or your children will consider calling Detroit what we call it — home.
Let the Games begin!
Read more: Maccabi Teens Look to Make History