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[Page 560]


Jewish Sporting Activity in Mezritsh

by Avraham Blusztajn

Translated by Jerrold Landau


Sporting activities of all kinds had a significant and positive influence on life in Mezritsh, especially among the town's youth.

Sporting activity among the Jews of Mezritsh began shortly after the First World War, and went hand in hand with the more general re-awakening of Jewish communal life.

Organized Jewish sporting activity developed at the Jewish gimnazjum [secular secondary school]. The brothers Izak and Nathan Finkelsztajn, Misza Frydman, Reichman[1], and others initiated and organized the first activities. Among other things, they assembled a football team with the appealing name Shimshon. Their activity resonated with the working youth. Inspired by their example, youth groups from several neighborhoods began to play football. The Venus team was exceptionally successful, and spun off many good players who went on to form new clubs.

The gimnazjum team generated a great deal of enthusiasm among the youth. Football games among organized teams sporting special uniforms and shoes made a deep impression. As a result of the heightened interest, a fenced football field was built on the Warsaw highway – one of the greatest accomplishments of that period.

Large audiences came to the watch the matches, especially when the Warsaw Jewish football team played against the Shimshon team in Mezritsh during their vacation. The Warsaw team played at a very high technical level. The Mezritsh footballers learned a great deal from them.

When the first group of ball players graduated from the gimnazjum, the Shimshon team broke up. The football field was also shut down at that time.

For a certain time the Shimshon team accepted excellent players who were not students at the gimnazjum, but were allowed to play unofficially on the team. Among those selected were, for example, Velvel Hecht, Nachum Zyto, Avraham Moshe Rogoszik, Moshe Hersch Ajdelbaum, Mordechai Trojeli and others.

During the post-war period[2], Jewish youth hungered for culture, sports and worldliness.


[Page 561]


mie561a.jpg [34 KB] - The Venus football team
The Venus football team



mie561b.jpg [32 KB] - The Joss football team
The Joss football team



[Page 562]


Various organizations were founded to fulfill their needs. I will now present one of them in greater detail.

J.S.K. (Jidishe Sport Klub) [Jewish Sports Club] was founded as an unaffiliated cultural center which welcomed the participation of members from all Jewish factions. The founders and organizers were the Podoljak brothers, the Lichtensztejn brothers, the Manperl brothers, Saposznikow[3], Avraham Fiterman, Mordechai and Gabriel Szapira, Mejer Ejdelbaum and many others.


The first committee of the Jewish Sports Club
mie562.jpg [36 KB] - The first committee of the Jewish Sports Club
In the picture, from the right, first row, standing:
Berl Manperl, Moshe Zauberman, Yosef Manperl, M. Spiwak, Mejer Ejdelbaum, B. Lichtensztejn
Second row: Mordechai Sztejn, Akiva Lichtensztejn, Mordechai Zalcsztejn, M. Szajnmel, Yosef Javerbaum.
Third row: Avraham Fiterman, B. Rozenfeld.


The club's activities were conducted in two parallel but separate spheres: culture and sports. The cultural events took place in a flat that was rented from Moshe Reichman, the carpenter on Lubliner Street. There, people played chess, checkers and dominoes, read newspapers, and discussed world problems. The very popular and beloved Circle of Amateurs of Mezritsh also gathered there.

In those days, Davidche Widra worked in a post office in Vilna. He played as an amateur in the renowned Vilna Troupe.





Translator's and editor's footnotes
  1. No given name for Mr. Reichman is provided in the original Yiddish text. Later in this chapter reference is made to Moshe Reichman, a carpenter on Lubliner St. It is possible that these might be the same person. return
  2. “Post war period” refers to the period following the First World War. return
  3. No given name for Mr. Saposznikow is provided in the original Yiddish text. There is no further mention of him in this chapter. return


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