The highly celebrated Israeli soccer team played competitive games during a visit co-hosted with St. Benedict’s Preparatory School to promote diversity and inclusion.
Throughout the week of June 6, the Under-19 team, coaches, and executives of Maccabi Haifa Football Club, one of Israel’s most celebrated soccer teams, visited New Jersey for the first time since 2013.
The team was co-hosted by the New Jersey-Israel Commission in partnership with St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark.
Maccabi Haifa F.C., known for its diversity as much as its talent, is made up of players spanning backgrounds across Israeli society and stands as a symbol of unity and inclusion.
Aside from their athletic achievements in Israel and Europe, Maccabi Haifa F.C. is often held as a symbol of peacebuilding and social cohesion.
The Maccabi Haifa F.C team came to play friendly matches against Under-19 teams of the New York Red Bulls and St. Benedict's Prep/Cedar Stars in Newark and the Philadelphia Union in Cherry Hill.
The games, while friendly, were competitive and attended by local community members and fans who came out to support all the players.
“Among the biggest problems in the world, and certainly in the United States, is our inability to understand the reality and the sufferings of others,” said Fr. Edwin Leahy, head of school at St. Benedict’s Prep. “Our relationship with Maccabi Haifa, which began nine years ago, offers all of us the opportunity to relate to peers across the world, leveling and transcending the playing field, as we come to know our mutual realities.”
“The outstanding character of both the Israeli and New Jersey players was apparent through these remarkable games,” said Mark S. Levenson, Co-Chair, New Jersey-Israel Commission. “Whether we speak Hebrew, Arabic, English, or Amharic, we are all reminded that sports is a crucial tool that brings people together and bridges New Jersey and Israel in truly profound ways.”
“Both on and off the field, the players of Maccabi Haifa F.C. showed us that there is more that unites us than divides us,” said Andrew H Gross, Executive Director of the New Jersey-Israel Commission. “Whether in New Jersey or in Israel, we are all destined to live together and these incredible games show us that there can be a bright future for the next generation.”
Maccabi Haifa Football Club is an Israeli professional football club, based in the city of Haifa’s Sammy Ofer Stadium and plays in the Israeli Premier League.
Maccabi Haifa F.C. has won fourteen league titles, six State Cups, and five Toto Cups including being the Israeli Premier League champions in the 2020-2021 season.
They were the first Israeli club to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League in the 2002 - 2003 season and hold, with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the joint record of two Champions League group stage qualifications for an Israeli team.
St. Benedict’s Preparatory School prepares boys and girls in and around Newark to fulfill their potential as emotionally mature, morally responsible, and well-educated citizens.
Operated by the Benedictine monks of Newark Abbey since 1868, St. Benedict’s offers a rigorous curriculum that sharpens the mind, shapes the character, and nourishes the spirit.
About the New Jersey-Israel Commission
The New Jersey-Israel Commission was established in 1989 to implement the goals of the New Jersey-Israel Sister State Agreement and is under the administration of the New Jersey Department of State. The Commission promotes the development of trade, culture, and educational exchanges; encourages the development of capital investment and joint business ventures; and fosters a spirit of cooperation between the citizens of the State of Israel and the State of New Jersey.