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[Col. 411]

“Makabi”

Shlomo Riman

Among the many Jewish organizations which were founded in Suwalk after the First World War, was the sports club “Makabi”.

From 1919 to 1924, there was a Jewish soccer team named “Amatorn” {amateurs?} founded and supported by Yeshayah Kershkovski. The members of the team were: Adlson, Nisan Visotsik, Leybke Verabaytshik, Motke Lifshits, Motke Liftshok, Maglender, Mikhael Smalinski, Spirtski, Moshe Hirshl Pinkovski, Gavriel Reyngvirts and others.

In 1924, the “Amatorn” soccer team was completely weakened and then the “Makabi” sports club was

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founded by the above-mentioned Kershkovski. He was assisted by the Fink brothers – Shimon, David and Avreml, Henekh Klatshkovski, Leyb Lifshits, Yosel Solnitski, Avraham Koyfman and Avraham Tsharko.

Members of the first “Makabi” soccer team were the above-mentioned three Fink brothers, Elie Halender, Shlomoh Shtaynberg, Motke Liftshok, Hayim Kvas, Moshe-Hirshke Pinkovski, Avraham Koyfman, Shmuel Skibelski, David Raykh, Leyb Lifshits, Dodek Shtern, Shilkes, Avraham Shenman, Avraham Tsharko, Henekh Klatshkovski and Yosl Salnitski. The last six, were students at the Hebrew gymnasium.

The “Makabi” soccer team had some great victories. The Polish spectators were not always indifferent

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when a game ended with a victory for the Jewish athletes. This happened when the “Makabi” beat the

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champions of the Bialystok district. The furious Poles attacked the Jews and there was a fierce battle,

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with the Jews not lagging behind. The strongest Jewish porter showed amazing might, beating up a large number of Poles by himself.

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Management of Suwalk “Makabi” in 1928
Seated from right: Sterisoler (instructor) Avraham Tsharko.
Standing from right: Leyble Lifshits, Yeshaya Krishkovski, Avraham Koyfman

 

The “Makabi” soccer team in Suwalk in 1929
First row right to left: Motl Kratshinski, David Fink, Yosl Zeligman, Avraham Koyfman, Shimon Oshinski
Second row standing: Nisan Abramski, David Raykh, Avraham Fink, Yeshayah Kershkovski, Shimon Fink, Shlomoh Shtaynberg, Leyb Halender

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Among the first managers of the “Makabi” were: Honorary President, Dr. Praysman, President Yeshayah Kershkovski. Members of Management: Avraham Koyfman, Leyb Lifshits, Avraham Tsharko, Yosl Solnitski, Henekh Klatshkovski and Reuven Pekarski (died in New York, December 1949).

“Makabi” grew quickly. In the thirties, the club numbered around 300-400 active and 200 passive members. It was self-supporting. “Makabi” had a beautiful meeting hall with a nice big auditorium for meetings and gymnastics; with a stage for performances, its own radio, and piano and expensive sports equipment. The beautiful meeting hall was vibrant with life, joy and activity all year round.

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There was a serious crisis in the organization in 1936 under the presidency of Rotnshteyn. He introduced a number of innovations with which some members disagreed, and some of them even left the “Makabi”.

The magnificent annual gymnastics performances by the “Makabi” in the City Auditorium brought them both honour and good receipts. The talented sports instructor, Vislo, was the guiding spirit behind these “turnfests” {gymnastic festivals}. He came over in 1930 from the Bundist sports club “Morgnshtern” {Morningstar} which did not last very long.

In 1936, another sports club was formed: “Ha-kadur” {the ball} led by members of “Makabi” who had left, because of the quarrel with President Rotnshteyn, including the writer of these lines. Most of them were boys between 14 to 16 years of age.

 

The Management and Audit Committee of Suwalk “Makabi” in 1938-39
Standing right to left: Avraham Fink, Seynenski, Yeshayah Kravtsinski, Yeshayah Galinski, David Fink.
Second row: Suvalski, Shlomoh Shteynberg. Instructor Vislo, Avraham Murzshinski, Firdman, Viner (instructor).
Third row: Dr. Avraham Tsharko, Yeshayah Kershkovski, Dr. Leon Smolinski, Rotnshteyn, Zelik Soloveythsik.
Last row: Asher Igelski, Zelik Tsviling
On photo in Polish: Management and Audit Committee of Z.T.G.S. “Makabi” from 1938/8?

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he “Ha-kadur” trained soccer players for “Makabi” for they joined the latter after the former's two or three year existence.

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“Ha-kadur” nurtured these new sportsmen: Leyb Nayerman, Getse Aspavat, Hayim Leyb Krasnopolski, Hayim Visatsek, Shmuel Kshivitski, and many others.

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“Makabi” also had its own small field for light athletics, basketball, volleyball, swimming, etc. The management of “Makabi” rented large parts of the field and built a fine training ground for its members. During the summer months, it was a lively and merry place.

The ping-pong team of “Makabi” was the best in Suwalk. I represented the club in many competitions

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for many years.

Of the below-mentioned sportsmen, the following are now in Canada: Shimon and Avraham Fink, Hayim Kvas now lives in Poland. David Fink fell, with weapons in his hands in a Partisan battle a few days before

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the liberation. Who can list all of the faithful fighters for Jewish honour in the ghettos, bunkers, and forests? In the Yiskor book of our dear city Suwalk, let us memorialize the names of the Jewish sportsmen whom I remember.

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General photograph of Suwalk “Makabi” in 1929
First row from right to left: Leyb Pinkovski, Yaakov Birnhalts, Moshe Grabshteyn, Zelik Tsviling, Mendl Levin, unknown, Izakovski, Pototski, Pototski, unknown, Kushierzshitski.
Second row: unknown, Bashkir, unknown, unknown, Dvoretski, unknown, Halpern, Lerner. Milkovski, unknown, Galinski, Koblinski, unknown, Alter Kalmanovits, unknown, Yogel, unknown.
Third row: Moshe Lizshevski, unknown, Hayim Kvas, Avraham Koyfman, Lyube Lifshits, Yeshaya Kershovski, Director Efron, Dr. L. Vaysman; Dr. N. Staropolski, lawyer Erdraykh, unknown, unknown, Holenderski, Mrs. Dr. Staropolski, unknown, Smolan, unknown.
Fourth row: Moshe Fridman, David Tsviling, Motl Galinski, Horekhve, unknown, Ponemunski, David Vroblevski, Itsik Levinski, Shlomoh Danto, David Fink, Yisrael Putshanski, unknown, Shimon Fink, Avraham Murzshinski, Yeshayah Galinski, Levinski, Shlomoh Shtaynberg, Prusak.
Fifth row: Nisan Khlabovski, Nahum Sayet, Velvl Kuzshierzshitski, Yaakov Zshinevski, Asher Igelski, unknown.
Sixth row: Fayans, Zshinevski, Motl Krinski, Tobolski, unknown, Mints, unknown, L.Shtaynberg, unknown, unknown, Moshe Ospovat, Dvoretski, Leybl Aylender, Nisan Abramski, Grimzshanski, Moshe Filitovski, Yehudah Smolan, Magdulin, Eliyahu Aylender, Bondishkovski, Kamenkovitsh.
Standing at head: Shabtay Kanovitsh, unknown, David Raykh, Leyzer Rozndorf.
Three children sitting below: Daughters of Dr. Starapolski and Director Efron and son of Apothocary Okhron.

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Boxing team of Suwalk “Makabi in 1928
From right to left standing: The Polish instructor, Avraham Koyfman, Shlomoh Shtaynberg, Leyb Lifshits, Meir Yogel, Yosl Zeligman, Avraham Murzshinski, David Raykh, Leyb Pinkovski. In front: brothers Avraham and David Fink.

{note: the following paragraph is a continuation of the four lines at head of 419 which were a continuation of the story from the previous page}

Ashinski, Shimyoshki, Brenholts Yaakov (Yantshe), Grimzshanski Yosef (Kaban), Aylender Elye, Krasnopolski Hayim Leyb, Zeligman Yosl, Vayner Yaakov, Zshinievski Yaakov, Koyfman Shmuel (from Grodno), Abramski Nisan, Abramski Gershon, Abramski Barukh, Rolsteytsher, Shtaynberg Shlomoh, Visatski Hayim, Aspavat Getse, Aspavat Moshe, Pinkovski Hilel, Nayermen Leyb, Pinkovski Moshe Hirsh, Smolan Yehudah, Selenski Alterke, Velsher Yaakov, Pomerants, Frank, Khlebovski Nisan, Khlebovski Velvl, Grinshteyn Khone

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Hirsh, Bernshteyn Berek, Lublinski Avraham, Ianto Shlomoh.

In the light athletics competitions, which were held on the Municipal Stadium, a number of “Makabi” athletes were very prominent. The three Fink brothers took the first place in the 100 meter races. Besides the Fink brothers, Henekh Latshkovski and Yosl Solnitski excelled in the four times 100 meter relay races. In the broad jump and pole vault competitions, David and Avraham Fink used to come first. In the long distance race of three kilometres, we had only one representative, but he brought us honour for many years, beating many non-Jewish runners. That was Meir Kladovski. In all competitions, he came out victorious. When Warsaw held all-Polish competitions, Suwalk was represented by N. Kladovski, among others. Dr. Tsharko Avraham, lawyer Yosl Salnitski, Henekh Kltashkavski were the spiritual leaders of the Suwalk “Makabi”.

In 1935, Yoske Salnitski went to Erets Yisrael to the second Makabiad, and is there until this day. Henekh Klatshkovski, who was secretary of “Makabi” for many years, was killed in a horrible fashion by the Nazi murderers. Dr. Avraham Tsharka died in Russia of typhus.

The “Makabi” sport club wrote a chapter in the history of the Jews of Suwalk. With the destruction of the Jewish community of Suwalk, a beautiful and grand Jewish sports family, which had brought honours for the Jews of our destroyed home town, also vanished forever.

{translator's note: many names are spelled differently in different places. This is because I am trying very hard to be faithful to the original, and there is great variation in the spelling of names. Also, it is difficult to know whether a letter is F or P, O or A, B or V, when the writer had omitted diacritics.}

 

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