Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Day Eight: Indoor Sport, Closing Ceremony and Attractivity!

Maccabi Junior Carnival reached its conclusion for 2016 with a frenetic last day filled with sport and festivities. We began bright and early as participants headed to their indoor sports, which comprised of rock climbing, basketball, futsal, volleyball and ten pin bowling.

Whilst a number of sports have been played in a purely social capacity throughout the week, this was certainly not the case at boys futsal. Amongst some unbelievable showings of individual skill on the pitch, there were also some wonderful team efforts. The Victorian side that were crowned champions in the year 8/9 category did so through teamwork and co-operation rather than individual brilliance.

More highlights came as a handpicked all-star team of participants faced off against a side comprising of the best footballers in the ranks of both youth leaders and management. In a closely fought match the leaders managed to defeat the participants with the score line at full-time reading 4-1.

Following a hearty lunch, participants returned to their various sports. The futsal arena now welcomed the year 6 and 7’s which saw a New South Wales side overcome a hard-fighting group of Victorians to claim the title.  

At the conclusion of sport came the formal aspect of the afternoon as carnival participants, leadership and important Maccabi figures gathered at All Sorts Alexandria for the official Carnival closing ceremony. Speeches from Carnival manager Justin Shelton, NSW team leader Joel Weiner, President of Maccabi Australia Barry Smorgon OAM and an intimidating haka from team NZ ensured Carnival was finished in style. Awards were handed out to a participant or two from each state before representatives from team WA promoted Maccabi Junior Carnival 2017 which is to be held in Perth.

Carnival had officially come to an end but the final social event of the schedule still remained. Attractivity, a new arcade-style facility located in Alexandria, welcomed Carnival with open arms and allowed unlimited use of their extensive premises. Laser tag, bowling, arcade games, dodgem cars, a ropes course and a 4D rollercoaster style game kept participants entertained all evening long.

As parents arrived to collect their children, it slowly became clear to participants that Carnival was over and the waterworks began. It was great to see how much the friendships developed on Carnival meant to these kids – hopefully they will last a lifetime.

Participants had a wide variety of perspectives on the week that was – the following is a selection of just a few:

"Carni was great. The parties were my favourite part. It was great being able to make new friends and share some awesome experiences with them." - Ben Becker (NSW)
"It was amazing. My highlight was white night. The entertainment was cool and being able to meet new people was really fun. We think we have made some friendships that will last a lifetime" - Lorri Gunn & Chloe Pamamull (VIC)

"It was amazing. My highlight was soccer. I enjoyed it being competitive and the functions were really good as well. On community day I went to friendship circle and it was great having that feeling of helping someone who really needs it. It felt good." - Nicholas Descy (QLD)
"It was really fun having people from all different states down in Sydney and being able to show them our lifestyle. Having been to Carni last year it’s been awesome seeing all the people I formed friendships with last year and also making strong new relationships." - Sabrina Staub (NSW)
"I only met my 3 billets on carnival and we have quickly become one big family. I’m sure we’ll stay friends for years to come " - Felix Moses (NSW)
This carnival we welcomed two all abilities members to our team of youth leaders, both named Michael. They proved excellent assets to the team – Mikey Sarif shared his thoughts on his experiences leading on Carnival.
"I’ve loved Carnival and I love looking after these kids. It’s been really challenging but also very rewarding. I’ve always wanted to do this but I never got a chance to do it as a kid - it’s kind of like a dream come true."
It’s been a fantastic week for everyone involved in Maccabi Junior Carnival 2016 and a huge thank you must go the way of Carnival manager Justin Shelton and his organising committee. We hope everyone enjoyed their time on Carni and will be back to join us next year in Perth!
Thanks for reading!

By Jake Rosengarten

Monday, January 18, 2016

Day Seven: Outdoor Sport + Foam Party

Following the excitement of the previous day, the participants of Maccabi Junior Carnival returned to the pitches of David Phillips Sporting Complex and Roland Park to resume their outdoor sporting commitments. As they did on the previous outdoor sports day, participants had the chance to play any of the following sports: football, touch football, ultimate Frisbee, tee ball, netball, tennis and AFL nines.

The sport was fiercely contested as participants finally enjoyed ideal weather for taking to the pitch. Finals were played out on the field as those playing competitively strived for satisfaction and glory! Overall, it was a fairly uneventful day of sport aside from an injury or two!

New South Wales participant Aaron Klimt dubbed it “the best
sports day so far!”

­­­­­­Our social event for the night was the always popular and ever-present foam party! Held at Rose Bay Secondary College, the foam party is a seemingly ever-present staple of the Carnival schedule. DJ Les Cohen got the crowd going with some top tunes as the foam party filled up with kids aching to be covered from head to toe in froth.

Perhaps, however, the real highlight of the night came as Les passed the decks over to Life on Earth – carnival participants aged just 14! The trio, comprised of New South Wales’ Riley Kovkin, Ryan Mayer and Jordan Lakofski, took over with aplomb and dropped tunes which brought the dancefloor back to life towards the end of the party. It was a wonderful sight to see.

The party was a big success as participants enjoyed the company of their friends whilst getting wet with foam and dancing the night away.

Tomorrow brings another edition of the indoor sporting options as well as our closing ceremony held at the exciting new arcade-style facility Attractivity. Tomorrow is the LAST day of Carni – make the most of it!

Thanks for reading.

By Jake Rosengarten

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Day Six: Raw Challenge + Lila Lavan (White Night)

Every Maccabi Junior Carnival has its own landmark event. Last year in Melbourne it was the Neon Run, but this time around Sydney’s Raw Challenge was the event everyone was looking forward to. A five kilometre course strewn with obstacles left, right and centre awaited at St Ives Showground as participants were bussed to the premises.

Somewhat unfortunately, Mother Nature failed to produce rain just when we needed it and as such mud was at a premium. Nevertheless, challenging obstacles saw participants climb, crawl, jump and run through all manner of challenging course features. Most popular perhaps was the slip and slide, in which participants had the opportunity to run and slide along a slippery surface – of course, getting dirty and foamy in the process.

Many ran the course a number of times before switching to objective number one… getting as muddy as humanly possible! NSW’s trio of Ella Hiles, Hannah Kavin and Jade Mezei were certainly of the philosophy that muddier is better.

“It was muddy and it was great. The muddier we got the more we went around the course and the better it was.”

Carnival Manager Justin Shelton’s prayer to the rain gods was to no avail but the head honcho believed that the event was still an unmitigated success.

“The course was great. The venue was great. We were hoping for more rain to get more mud happening but I believe the participants enjoyed the course nonetheless. It was good to see the kids running around and getting some exercise out in the fresh air.”

The recurring theme of a longing for a muddier and wetter day continued as Queensland’s Eli Mitchell gave me his thoughts on the Challenge.

“The Raw Challenge was good fun. I really enjoyed the slip and slide and the bubble machine. Maybe next time add more mud.”

The day was capped off with a variety of novelty races as youth leaders and management alike competed against participants. Watching Maccabi NSW president Danny Hochberg running the obstacle course dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and rainbow afro wig was certainly a sight that had to be seen to be believed!

After an awesome day at the Raw Challenge, the bar had been set and it was up to our Israel themed Lila Lavan (White Night) to live up to the lofty expectations of participants. It certainly did not disappoint, as DJ Jesse Bloch returned to the decks to keep the party going all night long - or at least until our designated 10:30 pick up time…

Snacks were on offer to compliment the wicked beats being dropped by our very own JB, as a drumming performance from ‘The Rhythm Village’ drew interactivity from the crowd. Situated in a warehouse-type building with Israeli flags donning the walls, white party 2k16 will go down as quite possibly the best social event of the entire Carnival social program.

Team VIC’s Angel Cohen was a big fan of the atmosphere at White Night. “Last night at white night was really fun and the music was really good and I had a great time.”

Lexi Levy agreed with her fellow Melbournian stating that she believed we “need more parties like white night!”

It was a long albeit exciting day at #MaccabiCarni, hopefully participants will get lots of sleep and will arrive on Monday raring for our final day of outdoor sport. Check back tomorrow for an update on sport and Monday night’s foam party!

Thanks for reading!

By Jake Rosengarten

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Day Five: Shabbat + Show Night!

Central Synagogue welcomed Carnival participants with open arms on Friday night as a beautiful service brought in Shabbat. Beautiful singing from the choir and the beautiful interiors of the shule ensured a service which was appreciated by the scores of Carni kids who were on hand to witness it. Tradition saw Saturday designated as a day off from Carnival activities as interstaters were given some time to get to know their billets and the city of Sydney in any way they saw fit.

Following the exit of Shabbat, participants flocked to UNSW’s Science Theatre for the aptly named ‘Show Night.’ Boy, did they see some show! We kicked off with a wonderful set by our very own Zak Fleisher, all the way from Perth, Western Australia. Zak got the crowd going with a covers of ‘Lonely Boy’ by the Black Keys and ‘Do I wanna know’ by the Arctic Monkeys before finishing off with two wonderfully crafted original songs.

The talent boasted by our youth leader ranks was on display shortly thereafter as Zak was joined on stage by NSW’s very own Tayla Cohen and Victoria’ Orren Chabat who burst into an impromptu version of Justin Bieber’s summer anthem ‘Love Yourself.’ Only to be joined by the entire youth leader body as participants in the crowd took the invitation to join them on the stage and bust out some bars to the Biebz. However, it didn’t take long for a Kanye-West-style interruption saw a change of tone as Omi’s Cheerleader, the song of #Carni2015 was belted out by the 500 strong crowd encompassing leadership, management and participants alike in a rare show of unity.

However, the show was just heating up – Stage Hypnotist Bill Wheeler then kicked us into overdrive with a showing of hypnosis which, quite literally, mesmerised participants. Wheeler’s act saw participants and leaders alike put to sleep with the click of fingers as well as dance moves some never knew they possessed and finally impromptu bursts of the chicken dance whenever a certain easily recognisable piece of music was played. Be sure to ask your child all about Bill’s act, and especially if they were involved. Something tells me they’ll all be giving very similar answers…

Bill wowed the crowd for one and a half hours of hypnotic fun, which to some more felt like a quick five minute nap! After a wonderful set and an unbelievable show night, the fun had to come to an end as the clocked clicked past 11. Show Night never fails to amaze and 2016’s edition was no exception to the rule.

Today (Sunday) sees participants engage in our gruelling five kilometre long Raw Challenge course in St Ives which is sure to see some muddy fun for young and old alike! Check back tomorrow for a detailed report of the goings-on at the Challenge!

Thanks for reading.

By Jake Rosengarten

Friday, January 15, 2016

Day Four: Community Day!

Community day is one of the most important staples of the Carnival schedule. It allows 
participants a chance to learn about and become a part of a number of important organisations and institutions in and around the host city who make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves. 2016 saw Carnival participants head to 16 different locations around Sydney to help those in need, learn about their heritage or become educated on other important societal issues and ways we can fix them. Originally 19 wonderful organisations offered to take on participants but unfortunately due to weather activities at Clean up Australia, Save the Children, North West Disability Services and Easy Care Gardening had to be cancelled. A big thank you must also go to Chabad North Shore who offered to take participants at the very last minute!

Community Day organiser Leanne Shelton was over the moon that all her hard work paid off and culminated in a fantastic day of volunteering for all. “While it was a stressful morning of sorting out last minute relocations, all of the reports I’ve heard have been very positive,” Shelton said, “I’d like to thank all the organisations for coming on board and I hope everyone had a memorable experience and will continue to do more volunteering in the future.”

Continue reading down the page for summaries of each individual volunteering experience!

Advantaged Care - Bondi Waters

The 8 Participants who did their volunteering at Bondi Waters Aged Care facility began their experience with a tour around the building before engaging in an inter-generational game of bowling involving both kids and residents. Next, participants sat and ate lunch with residents in the dining room whilst mingling and enjoying each other’s company. Finally, the participants helped residents in their preparations for Australia day.

Resident Pat Kenny had the following to say about Maccabi Carnival’s successful visit to Bondi Waters.

“They have fitted in well and haven’t made any noise. The kids are very well-mannered, something which you don’t see a lot in kids their age these days. I think it’s a lovely concept; years ago there wasn’t anything like this. The residents have really enjoyed having the kids here.”

Animal Welfare League NSW

Participants who volunteered at the Animal Welfare League opened their day by preparing a morning meal for the cats residing there and also had the opportunity to feed it to them whilst brushing and grooming the adorable felines. Following this, participants played with puppies and took a few lucky canines on a walk before engaging in a mini-training session with command and rewards for the dogs.

Arthritis & Osteoporosis NSW

A Brainstorming session about how to raise awareness for arthritis saw participants come up with various ideas for arts, crafts and games to be undertaken at camps run by host organisation Arthritis and Osteoporosis NSW. The kids then helped with administration tasks such as sorting brochures and opening mail.

Assistance Dogs Australia

Fundraising for assistance dogs Australia in Sydney’s CBD was incredibly successful and culminated in the raising hundreds of dollars for their organisation. The highlight of the day was the opportunity to meet a woman whose nephew was the same age as participants and is a beneficiary of the charity.

B'nai B'rith Courage to Care

Courage to Care put on an amazing program for our Maccabi participants; explaining the power of propaganda and the media and, the importance of standing up against bullying and discrimination. The kids then had the opportunity to listen to a holocaust survivor’s story and then create their own powerful posters on a social issue important to them. Some incredible posters were designed which displayed amazing thoughts from our future generation about important societal concerns.

Chabad North Shore

Volunteers at Chabad North Shore had the opportunity to spend time helping out in their vacation care as well as baking challah amongst other activities.

Friendship Circle NSW

Carnival participants were given the opportunity to spend a morning playing games, sport and bonding with Friendship Circle members. Split into groups of three, all participants were able to forge relationships with their Friendship Circle partners at a one on one level. Carnival participants walked away with a new perspective on people with special needs and a desire to ensure that Maccabi and their respective societies becomes more inclusive.

New South Wales participant Ryan Mayer was glowing about his experience at the Friendship Circle:
“We had a lot of fun and it was really interactive with the kids. I loved the person I was working with; she was super great. It’s an awesome experience to be with these kids and learning how they work and feel because a lot of their emotion comes out. It feels great to give back to the community. I’ve never really felt like this when doing community service; we’re making a real difference to real people which is the best thing someone can do.”

Jewish House

Volunteers at Jewish House helped pack gift bags whilst organising the kitchen and cupboards with a stocktake of all the donated food and supplies Jewish house have received. Proceeding this, participants also helped tidy up the house so it stays in tip top shape for the clients who stay there.

Our Big Kitchen

The 65 Carnival kids who visited Our Big Kitchen in Bondi had the opportunity to bake challah from start to finish as well as making cookies for the homeless.

Our Big Kitchen’s Laya Slavin had only good things to say about the participants who she guided through the baking process.

“Maccabi kids are fantastic and have a real ruach about them. It isn’t just challah dough; they are experiencing a lot more than that. Each child has made 2 challahs today. One will be going to their family or their billet’s family and the other is to give to someone to put a smile on their face. They will also be making cookies for the homeless. The kids have been really well behaved and look to be having a great time.”

Oz Harvest Food Rescue

Kids who spent the day at Maccabi’s Offices with OzHarvest spent their time organising and sorting the donations made by Carnival participants this week. They listened intently to a presentation by a representative of the organisation and ensured the foodstuffs were ready for collection.

Stand Up: Jewish Commitment to a Better World

Icebreakers. Listened to the story of Yarrie Bangura, a Sierra Leonan refugee and basically linked it to Jewish responsibility. Because our grandparents too were persecuted it’s our responsibility. Got some inspiration from posters about freedom and liberty and painted a canvas each about what it meant to stand up for what we believe in. Thinking about what we can do to stand up for everyone.

SummitCare Nursing Home Randwick (Frenchman's Lodge)

Participants who visited SummitCare Nursing Home Randwick spent their day meeting the residents and assisting with other activities.

Sydney Jewish Museum

The Sydney Jewish Museum was the biggest of our volunteer locations in terms of the number of participants taken on. 100 Carnival kids spent Community Day at the SJM learning about their heritage and the history of the Jewish people. Beginning with a guided tour around the museum, the participants also heard lectures from SJM staff as well as being treated to a testimonial from a holocaust survivor.

“It’s nice but also sad to see what happened during the World War Two period and hearing from the survivors,” said Tal Levin of Western Australia, “I think learning about the holocaust enhances our Jewish connection and is really important so we never forget what happened in the past.”

Thread Together

Thread Together is an organisation that collects off-season clothing from big clothing brands and donates them to the less fortunate. Participants helped to organise the clothing into sizes and categories so that they were ready for distribution. There were over 140,000 pieces of clothing on site and the organisation is able to help a multitude of charities all over the country by providing them with these clothes.

Together for Humanity

An organisation where there were representatives from 4 different religious beliefs. Amongst the representatives were a Muslim, a Jew, A Christian and an atheist. The participants had the opportunity to ask questions and answer questions around each different stream of faith. Following this, the kids participated in a few different activities which encouraged them to critically think about different global issues and scenarios relating to different cultures and religions.

Wesley Mission

Participants were set the challenge of feeding a homeless person in the best way possible for just $5. The kids learnt a lot about the multitude of reasons why someone may end up homeless and were left with a greater knowledge of the world surrounding homeless men, women and children.

Thanks for reading.

Written by Jake Rosengarten.

Photos by Jess Cohen and Talia Binkin.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Day Three: Heat Waves and Pool Raves

Sydney put on its best Melbourne impression on Thursday as the weather shifted from one extreme to another. We began the day with in blistering heat with the mercury hitting a scarcely believable 40 degrees as participants sweated through their morning sporting exploits. Somewhat fortuitously, today was scheduled for indoor sports with futsal, basketball, volleyball and rock climbing on the agenda for the morning session.

It was clear to those who inquired that participants had only one thing on their mind today. “It is extremely hot, all I’m doing is looking for shade and air conditioning wherever I can find them!” proclaimed Riley Kovkin of New South Wales. Victorian Sam Rudzki shared Riley’s train of thought, “is it air conned?” Sam asked me longingly before quickly added, “Because if it is, I’m there!” before I even had a chance to retort.
Despite a fairly enjoyable morning sporting session, chaos quickly ensued as participants complained of heat stroke, exhaustion and tiredness. Following lunch, as the temperature continued to climb, a decision was made by carnival management to cancel our afternoon sporting session (which was due to comprise of futsal, basketball, volleyball and tenpin bowling) due to health risks associated with the weather.

“We were really looking forward to playing basketball with our friends,” said Felix Moses and Liyam Rabinowitz of New South Wales and Victoria respectively, “although everyone is sweaty and tired and we completely understand the decision to cancel.”

Following the departure of participants from the sporting arena, an equally perilous weather situation threatened to ruin yet another event. A nasty looking storm front was poised to strike Sydney and its surrounds during the evening – during which time, the kids of Carnival were meant to be enjoying a pool party at Botany Aquatic Centre. A decision was put off as long as possible before eventually deciding to go ahead with the party despite the potential for further rain.

“The forecast wasn’t looking great but we made a decision based on what we could foresee,” stated Carnival manager Justin Shelton, “after seeing how well all the participants enjoyed the night I’m glad we went ahead with it. Despite a few showers here and there the night was a success.”

Participants echoed Justin’s sentiments as many noted the arctic conditions on offer in the water. “The music is pumping and we’re having loads of fun, but the water is freezing!” asserted Georgia Goodson and Jasmine Simon, both native Victorians.

In summary, despite the temporary obstacles thrown our way by Mother Nature, the Carnival schedule managed to go ahead almost entirely as planned – with the exception of afternoon sport. Tomorrow is community day and will see participants head to various organisations located in and around Sydney to volunteer some of their time to those who need it most. It is a very important day for Carnival and Maccabi, one which will hopefully see the kids represent their community to the best of their ability.

Thanks for reading.

Tune in tomorrow evening for another instalment of all the news from #MaccabiCarni!

By Jake Rosengarten

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Day Two: Sport in the heat and a boat party meet and greet

As Sydney turned on a scorcher the participants of Maccabi Carnival 2016, albeit reluctantly, hit the sporting fields. The mercury continued to rise as the kids tried their hands at netball, tennis, ultimate Frisbee, touch football, football, tee ball and AFL Nines. Sessions were split up between social and competitive sport as we aimed to accommodate the sporting needs of each and every participant.

Outdoor sports organiser Michael Puterflam believes that the changes made to the sporting side of Carnival this year have paid off. “The introduction of a split between social and competitive sport means that the kids who really want to play can do so, whilst also providing more relaxed options for the kids who would rather just chill.”

Puterflam added, “This year our youth leaders have been assigned to sports in which they already possess a skill and/or knowledge. Each leader is paired up with a team of kids who they stay with for the entirety of a sporting session, thus allowing time for bonds between the two to develop. Our first goal is to get everyone playing sport, and today I feel we achieved that.”

Participants of ultimate Frisbee were taught a variety of skills essential to a game which was foreign to many. “We learned to throw it flat and in the right direction through a variety of games which were really fun,” stated Elya Tal, Chloe Pamamull and Holly Feldman (All VIC), “the coaches were really great and taught us well enough that we would now be capable of playing with friends in the future.”

Western Australian Zach Nepper spent a session playing football – an activity which led to him meeting people from a number of states. “It was fun to be able to play with new people. I was in a mixed team with people from New Zealand, New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland, some of whom I have now formed friendships with. It was really good to have a run around.”

After a seriously long day of sport which was not made any less tiring by the blistering sun, came a short break before meeting at Rose Bay Wharf for the first social event of the Carni calendar. The harbour cruise is a staple of a Sydney carnival and has been a tradition for a number of years. The scenery through the harbour including the world famous Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge left no one unimpressed and no selfie untaken.

Many participants spoke of the uniqueness of these views to the Sydney landscape. Western Australia’s Tal Ram and Adam Gootman spoke fondly of their experience aboard the cruise, “The music was really great and it was amazing to take in all the Sydney scenery, the vibe was awesome and the atmosphere super chilled.” NSW’s Eve Lemberg and Paris Spennato remarked at the “difference to the other discos” as they enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Sydney harbour.

Whilst some kids offered more thoughts than others, Daniel Epstein perhaps offered the best all round summary of a great first social event for 2016. “10/10 and the DJ is unbelievable,” glowed the New South Welshman. Something I like to think is a fairly accurate review of an evening which left everyone looking forward to the rest of the packed schedule in store over the next seven days and nights.

The tunes were provided by local Sydney DJ and Jew Jesse Bloch, who himself is a former Carnival participant. Jesse is our resident Carni DJ and will play at a number of the social events at this year’s Carni. Additionally, an on-board canteen was run by the Maccabi Swimming Club.

A long day comes to an end. Tomorrow should prove not quite as tiring or draining on participants as they undertake their sports of choice in entirely indoor venues. If today is anything to go on, it should shape up as an absolute cracker of a day!

Thanks for reading.

By Jake Rosengarten