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Brighton and Hove Maccabi

The Maccabi World Union was created at the 12th World Jewish Congressin 1921. The secretariat of Jewish sport leaders decided to form one umbrella organisation for all Jewish sports associations. Its aims were defined as working to “foster physical education, belief in Jewish heritage and the Jewish nation, and to work actively for the rebuilding… Read more »

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The Maccabi World Union was created at the 12th World Jewish Congressin 1921. The secretariat of Jewish sport leaders decided to form one umbrella organisation for all Jewish sports associations. Its aims were defined as working to “foster physical education, belief in Jewish heritage and the Jewish nation, and to work actively for the rebuilding of our own country and for the preservation of our people.” The Maccabiah Games are held every four years in Israel.

In about 1932 or 1933, Sidney Freedman, Isidore Goldberg, Lawrence Anekstein and Willie Cooperman (my father) were members of the Brighton and Hove Jewish Social and Literary Society, and there was also a Brighton Jewish Sports Club. It seems these combined to become the Brighton and Hove Jewish Club in February 1933 or 1934. In June 1934, the Club was formally affiliated to the British Maccabi Association and was thereafter known as Brighton and Hove Maccabi, with the headquarters at Codrington Place, Brighton.

The years until the war were Maccabi’s most active and successful in its history, with a membership in 1935 of 200. Sport was naturally at the forefront of its activities with football and cricket teams, tennis, table-tennis and swimming. In addition, there was a drama section which put on shows; there were also talks, fundraising events for local charities and social events including dances and visits to other branches.

In August 1936, it had been planned that the Maccabi World Games were to be held in Brighton, with support from the Council, and the expectation that several hundred competitors would come from abroad. Sadly, they were cancelled, no doubt due to the worsening situation for Jews on the Continent. Shortly after the outbreak of war, it was noted that over half the male membership had signed up to serve in the armed forces.

My father was the first honorary secretary and the main organiser of Maccabi events. In later years, it was he who suggested the name of Carmel for the tennis club in St Heliers Avenue, Hove which continued for many years and was especially popular on Sunday mornings. He was also instrumental in the formation of a Sunday cricket league in Brighton so that Maccabi could participate.

After the war, Brighton & Hove Maccabi was reinvigorated and won the Maccabi swimming gala in 1948. It remained in existence certainly until 1951, but then gradually lost members until it was reopened in Rochester Gardens in June 1960. It ran for a number of years until the mid-1960s, and then again in the 1990s, when an attempt was made to restart it at Ralli Hall, but it has now ceased to exist in the city.

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