New look as Maccabi SA celebrates 80th birthday

  • 1-Milner Jack
There was a double celebration for Maccabi South Africa at the Houghton Golf Club last Sunday morning. The first was to commemorate an organisation that has been active in this country for 80 years. The second was to launch a new era - and image - for the organisation.
by JACK MILNER | Mar 16, 2016

The Maccabi Games in Israel was first staged in 1932 and when the second one came around in 193, a group of South Africans were determined to participate. They had such a positive experience of this Jewish gathering that it laid the foundation for a move to establish a body to support the event and Maccabi South Africa was formed in 1936.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, the Maccabi Games had to be put on hold but was resurrected in 1950 and South Africa was there in full force.

Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein was the guest of honour last Sunday and he pointed out a number of important roles Maccabi South Africa had played over the years.

“Eighty years is an important milestone because according to the Gemorra, the number 80 is a sign of strength. Maccabi has served the South African community and Israel for 80 years.

“Secondly the organisation has promoted the playing of sport and playing sport is a mitzvah. The Torah tells us that being healthy is a mitzvah and playing sport keeps you healthy. It also promotes the value of sport because instead of sitting in front of a television set for hours, kids are on a field, making contact with friends.

“But Maccabi also stands for Jewish unity and to do that for 80 years is a remarkable achievement.”

The Maccabi relaunch comprised many stalwarts of this lofty organisation including George Mendelssohn, Butch Blacher, Raymond Hack, Jack Lurie and Mervyn Tankelowitz who is the current president. But what was most impressive is the number of young people who are now involved in the organisation as volunteers and conveners in various sports.

Current chairman, Cliff Garrun has always had the idea of bringing Maccabi South Africa into the 21st century but you need somebody to put everything into practice and he found that person in Ros Goldin.   

With Goldin in driving seat and a committee who embraced the changes in support, a new logo has been introduced, the website has been upgraded and all the digital channels have been updated.

A director of sport has been introduced and filling that role is Alain Nathan. 

“Our main focus is to find ways of ‘de-couching’ our youth,” explained Garrun. “We are also focused on recognising and nurturing talent.

“Of course, the Maccabiah is an important part of our organisation and squads need to be preparing 12 months before the event. We are well under way to achieving that, even though we have this mountain to climb in managing the cost.

“We will try to institutionalise the cost process and establish a Maccabi Youth Fund. We have a good record in this regard and nobody has ever stayed at home because they couldn't afford to go.”

Garrun also announced that Les Cohen will be the South African Head of Delegation for the 2017 Maccabiah. Cohen, who is the current treasurer, has run Maccabi SA Golf for quite a few years now and whatever may have been happening in the organisation, the unflappable Cohen had the golf events running like clockwork.    

“I am confident Les will do an outstanding job of leading Team Maccabi SA at the Games,’’ commented Garrun.

Maccabi SA also launched an “Ambassador Programme” in which some of the country’s most talented Jewish sportsmen and women to represent the Maccabi SA brand “in order to really connect with, mentor and motivate our audience”.

The ambassadors are: Adam Bacher (cricket), Dr Ali Bacher (cricket), Dr Shane Dorfman (karate), Dean Furman (football), Jonathan Kaplan (rugby), Richard Kaplan (golf), Lance Metz (mountaineering), Shireen Sapiro (swimming) and Mandy Yachad (cricket and hockey).




New Boys beat Old Boys in the wet

Even at school level (and also at post-school level) muddy conditions and driving rain hold no terror for rugby players.

Earlier this month King David Linksfield hosted the annual Old Boys versus New Boys Open on their main rugby field.

It rained from the first whistle and the conditions were certainly not conducive to scoring tries. Neither side benefited from the adverse conditions, but the sides agreed to fight it out to the end unless lightning intervened. In the end it was the New Boys who eked out a gutsy 10 - 5 victory thanks to tries from Ryan Horowitz and Aaron Kretzmer.

The Old Boys were only able to cross the try-line on one occasion, but neither side was able to do anything with the conversion kicks, courtesy of a very slippery ball. 

Despite the conditions, the stand was packed with supporters and the match was played in s good, yet competitive spirit.

At the end of the match everybody stood in a circle to perform a unifying war cry - Beyachad!





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