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[Page 75]

“Maccabi” Federation in Akkerman

by S. Segal and T. Manueli

Translated by Sara Mages

“Maccabi” Federation in our city underwent various incarnations and stages. It began in the summer of 1917. In the summer of that year, Mr. Granovski arrived to our city from Odessa. He was active in the Zionist movement there and was among the founders of “Maccabi” in the city. Several members of “Maccabi” in Odessa came with him and organized a sports ball with a display of gymnastics at Stepidov's cinema. The gymnasts were dressed in blue and white and accompanied the sports exercises with national songs. They received a lot of applause from the audience and at that event it was announced that a “Maccabi” branch would be established in Akkerman. At that time there were no youth movements in the city, and for that reason many young people joined “Maccabi.” However, the movement did not last long, the first enthusiasm quickly faded and the branch was liquidated a short time later.

The second incarnation of “Maccabi” looks strange and puzzling. In 1921, or at the beginning of 1922, a group of boys from the Government Gymnasium in Romania started to engage in gymnastics and various sports exercises. The name that they choose for themselves was - “Maccabi.” We don't remember who the first members of this group were, but it is known that it was headed by a gentile named Kolia Bimbolov. What is even more puzzling - he gave the orders in Hebrew as he was marching through the city. Since this organization also had no public support - it also died.

The third incarnation of “Maccabi” began in the year 1925-1926. This time, the initiative to establish “Maccabi” came from our city's branch of “Tzeirei Zion“ who aspired to bring the youth closer to Zionism and tried to achieve their goal through a sports federation. At the head of the organizing committee stood: Valya Milstein, T. Manueli and Y. Shildkraut. Also Simcha (Sioma) Segal was among the activists. Manueli and Shildkraut mostly acted in the field of culture. Due to the lack of suitable instructors the activity gradually weakened.

Now we arrive to the fourth stage. It was in 1928. At the initiative of “Tzeirei Zion“ and “Maccabi,” a literary trial was conducted on “Motke the Thief” of Shalom Asch. There was considerable income from this trial, and it was decided that it would be dedicated to the establishment of a fund for the strengthening of “Maccabi's” activity. At that time, Valya Milstein still served as chairman of the association.

In 1929, a convention of “Tzeirei Zion“ in Bessarabia was held at the “HalutzHakhshara farm, “Massada,“ near Bălţi [Beltsy], and Tzvi Maniali (Manoali) participated as a delegate from Akkerman. On his way back from the convention he stopped in Kishinev and had a consultation at the “Maccabi” center regarding to the renewal of the activities in Akkerman. The center recommended the sports instructor, Botoshansky, as an appropriate man from an organizational and sporting standpoint


A group of Maccabi gymnasts in training

[Page 76]

for the resumption of the activities of “Maccabi” in Akkerman. He was also promised a certain amount of money to cover his salary. A short time later the instructor arrived in Akkerman, started to reorganize the branch and, we can say, that he laid the foundation for an active and organized chapter of “Maccabi” in our city. For the first time a sports race was held in the city streets. It ended on Michaelovsky Street near the municipal park. That same year, a young man from the city of Bender (Tighina), who served as an instructor at the branch of “Maccabi” in his city, appeared before S. Segal and offered himself as a free instructor at the “Maccabi” branch in Akkerman. His proposal was accepted and a new committee was set up under the leadership of Dr. Shaul Zlering. Among the activists in the branch were: Valya Milstein, Manueli and Simcha Segal who served as secretary. In addition to them, several graduates of the Hebrew Gymnasia, such as Shaya Falikov, the brothers Yakov and Shmuel Rosenthal, and others, also joined. At the same time, there were various apparatus at the branch that enabled proper athletic activity. They also came to an agreement with the high school principal, Yakov Berger, that the school's gymnasium will be used for sports activity of the “Maccabi” branch in the evenings.

In 1931, Dr. Zlering immigrated to Israel and Tzvi Manueli was elected in his place. At the recommendation of the community leader, M. Helman z”l, the community donated a flag with “Maccabi's” logo. For the dedication of the flag a procession was held in the city streets to the sound of a band. It ended with a rally at the Great Synagogue. City leaders and community activists were invited to the rally, and the representatives of the government brought their blessing to the festive gathering.

Over time, with Tzvi Manueli's desire to free himself from the burden, we managed to bring new people closer to the activity of “Maccabi.” Among them was Lazar Vladimirovich Groshman, who also agreed to serve as chairman for a certain period. When he moved to Bucharest, Dr. Akim Markowitz Wilkomirski was elected chairman of the association even though he wasn't a Zionist. He was, in fact, the last chairman of “Maccabi” until the Soviet occupation. Together with him were active: T. Manueli, S. Segal, Valya Milstein, David Waiser (owner of the notions store), and also Gretz Abramowitch - a member of “Tzeirei Zion“ which continued to support “Maccabi” throughout its existence.

It is worth noting, that under the influence of the youth movements (Gordonia, Hashomer Hatzair, Betar), which began to develop great activity starting from 1929 and trained their members for immigration, Maccabi also experienced a certain agitation and its members demanded that “Maccabi” not only provide athletic activity, but also encourage its members for training and immigration. And indeed, in 1931, a national meeting of “Maccabi” was held in Romania and many members, mainly from Bessarabia, raised the demand to set up Hakhshara points [pioneering training commune] for the members of “Maccabi.” A decision in this spirit was accepted at the conference, and “Maccabi” joined the “Halutz“ movement. Members of the branch of “Maccabi” in Akkerman were among the first to leave for Hakhshara when they were established in Odobe?ti,,Ripiceni, Bucharest and Bãl?i. The first members who left for Hakhshara: Sincha Segal, Manya Licht, Sara Goldnberg, the brothers Levit, Fanya Abramowitch, Alyosha Barany, Mora Filand, Rachel Mutchnick, Batia Spinnern Sura Botoshansky and others. Our member, Yakov Rosenthal, traveled to Israel as a tourist to the Maccabiah Games, but he remained in the country. In this period, S. Segal was elected as a member of Maccabi center.


A group of “Maccabi” sports instructors
First row (seated right to left): Yantzik Weinstein, Munia Trachtman, Alyosha Barany, Avraham Goldman, Shmuel Stetsky
Second Row: Buria Citron, Yisrael Ganpolsky, Isak Feidel (instructor from Kishinev), Mulia Rosenthal, Lifchitz
Third row: unidentified, Rotenberg, Lyuma Rotenberg, Izik Ganpolsky, Sioma Levit

[Page 77]

In the years 1936-38, during the reign of the Jews-haters in Romania (Antonescu, Cuza, Goga), an order was given to close the Hakhshara branches in Romania and the “Halutz“ center was forced to cease its activities. With the efforts of the leadership of “Maccabi,” a license was granted for the establishment of one Hakhshara branch - “Masada Farm,” in Bãl?i. the Hakhshara branch of “Gordonia's” in Bãl?i, was also registered in this license under the name of “Maccabi.”

At the outbreak of the war, the activities of “Maccabi” ceased throughout Romania, and all the emissaries to the youth movements were sent back to Israel, except for D. Guberman from “Hashomer Hatzair“ movement who remained in Romania. The gates to Israel were locked, but many members of “Maccabi” managed to reach Israel in various ways, most, with the Ha'pala Movement (illegal immigration).


The branch of “Maccabi” in Akkerman at the flag raising celebration
Members of the committee sitting in the center (from the right): Y. Greenshpon, M. Stretz, Leib Shohet, Dr. E. Wilkomirski, Lazar Grossmann, Pemi Baltaksa, Chaim Rosenthal. Greenstein, Shmuel Segal, Aba Hellman, Plock


A group of “Maccabi” gymnasts

[Page 78]

Members of “Maccabi” with the sports instructors and the members of the Public Committee prior to the immigration of the chairman Dr. S. Zlering
Members of the committee (from the right): Gretz Abramowitch, Y. Abramowitch, Y. Berger, Natan Goldstein, the chairman Dr. S. Zlering, Z. Miniely, Dr. E. Wilkomirski, unidentified, Falikov


Members of Maccabi branch 1931-32

[Page 79]

A group of “Maccabi” gymnasts with the instructor Sioma Levit (on the right)


Maccabi parade with its flags on a Romanian holiday
The inscription on the poster - reexamination of the borders - means war

[Page 80]

“Maccabi's” chairman, Dr. E. Wilkomirski
(the last chairman before the Soviet occupation}


“Maccabi” parade in Akkerman's streets


“Maccabi's” gymnasium with training equipment


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