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Saturday, February 29, 2020

(Courtesy of Kaplen JCC on the Palisades) Mamanet, the new women’s sport that has taken Israel by storm, has become a major draw at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades as well, growing in popularity so quickly, that there are now more than 120 motivated moms who play weekly on nine teams, including a new mixed team of both Israeli and American players.

Earlier this month, 80 players flew in from as far away as Los Angeles, Portland, Boston and Washington, DC, to compete with 80 players from the JCC’s local teams in the first-ever Mamanet tournament in America. More than 160 women packed the JCC gyms for a three-day competition, where four games on four courts were taking place at any given time.

The tournament kicked off on a Friday with a full day of competitions and concluded with a Kabbalat Shabbat, hosted by one of the local Mamanet players in her backyard garden. The Saturday night tournament, which ran from 9:30 p.m. until midnight, featured a DJ, who entertained the women all evening, as they played and danced and celebrated every loss and win in high spirits. The tournament concluded on Sunday, when a professional Mamanet team, whose players flew in from Israel to help organize and run the event, led a professional clinic from 9 a.m. till noon.

“The joy and spirit that radiated in the room was just contagious,” says Arielle Elad, who oversees the JCC Israeli Center and helped organize the event. “Mamanet is an inspiring game that gives local Israeli moms a chance to bond with other moms and share in something exciting that takes them out of their everyday routines. Our motto is: Every mother can! There are no entry tests and we will coach and train any mom who wants to join. Our teams just keep growing and now include American moms as well, and in addition to all the fun we have, we also volunteer as a group to do things in the community. Part of our goal is to give back and the JCC is place where opportunities to do this always present themselves.”

Mamanet, which is similar to Newcomb and volleyball, has grown into the largest social-sports league for mothers in Israel. Its mission is to teach good sportsmanship as a way of life, and that is exactly what drives the growing teams at the JCC. In addition to playing a fun, competitive game and serving as health-minded role models for their children, the moms who make up the JCC teams volunteer in the community, doing things like donating to food banks, helping families in need and spending time with children who have special needs.

Mamanet (which translates to mom and net) was established in 2005 in Israel, where more than 12,000 women now actively participate in more than 90 cities. Its popularity has quickly spread to other countries including Austria, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and the US.