The Impact We Have – Matthew Halpern, European Maccabi Games

When I participated in my first Maccabiah in 2005, I was unaware of the incredible infrastructure in place to make sure the athletes had a positive and safe experience. At that time, my focus was on the competition. But I learned very quickly that the journey was also about the people you meet and the friendships you make along the way. 
I was honored to compete for Maccabi USA on four different occasions, three times in Israel and once in Australia. And during those eight years, I became more involved, including serving as a sports chair for bowling in 2011 and 2013, as well as serving on the Maccabi USA Board of Directors. 
Because of the positive experiences I had, I looked for other ways to stay involved which lead me to serving on the management teams at the 2015 European Maccabi Games and 2017 Maccabiah. Each experience continued to open my eyes to the impact we have on our athletes and the opportunities that exist for growing and nurturing our operation. 
As the Co-Team Manager with Fanchon Auman, for the Maccabi USA delegation at this year’s European Maccabi Games in Budapest, I was fortunate to experience the Games from a new perspective. Our attention focused on the myriad of details needed for a successful event, reaching a crescendo as the athletes arrived, preparing themselves for their competition and walking together in the Opening Ceremonies as proud representatives of Maccabi USA. 
Beyond the games and practices, the uniforms and the ceremonies, it is the bonds that form among the teammates and the friendships that develop with the other competitors that are the true gift of the Maccabi experience. There is something truly special about the friendships that form during the Games that really last a lifetime. For me, so many of my closest friendships have developed through my experience with Maccabi USA, and that continues even today. 
My Maccabi journey continues to be written and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.