A Proud History
Most sporting organisations were formed with the purpose of developing and coordinating grass root activities, encouraging participation and pursuing goal achievement. In this regard the Maccabi organisation is no different; however, it was founded on the basic premise of Jewish Nationalism through sporting prowess, encapsulated in the words of Max Nordau, co-founder of the World Zionist Organization together with Theodor Herzl,
“We will renew our youth in our aging years: We will develop wide chests, strong arms and legs, a brave look. We will be warriors. What is lacking physically, we will develop through exercise. But our recovery to health is not only through the body, but also in the spirit, for as Hebrews will attain more achievements in sport, so will our self-confidence improve. Long lives Sport! Hebrew Sports clubs go forward and bloom”. 1898 Max Nordau
Our forefathers realised from the early 1920s the value of sport as a tool in increasing the social interaction of their youth in a Jewish environment. Around the world Jewish spokesmen had proclaimed the value of physical activity in fighting the traditional anti-Semitic view of the Jew as weak and bookish.
“It has a symbolic purpose, for behind it has the aim of keeping the Jewish people together and preserving the creed, perpetuating the faith; it is to prevent the regrettable drift that is making many of our people cease from owing allegiance to the religion of their fathers.” Sir John Monash at the opening of the Maccabean Hall 1923
No different to this earlier period, the Maccabi organisation today has a definite agenda to promote Jewish identity and continuity and through our programs provide pathways for athletes to improve their sporting prowess and make friends for life. Maccabi Australia together with its member States and affiliated Clubs is the largest Jewish grass-roots organisation in Australia, boasting a 90-year heritage with 6,500 members ranging in age from 5 to 85 years across 52 clubs.
Over the years Maccabi across Australia has been at the centre of developing, hosting and managing events which have provided the community the opportunity to compete and enjoy the connections that sport brings. Every week our members connect and form lifelong friendships via their participation in a Maccabi Club. Opportunities exist for all -from Juniors, through to Open and Masters’ the State based Club structure has been set up to support all ages and all skill levels.
The Junior Carnival is hosted each year (on a rotating basis) by one of the State bodies and teams are sent to International competitions including, the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) Games, Pan American Games, European Games, and the pinnacle - the Maccabiah Games. In fact, Australia has been sending a team to the Maccabiah since 1950.
Our reach into the community was no more evident than at the 2017 Maccabiah where a team of more than 560 people travelled to Israel competing in over 40 sports - successfully winning 135 medals. With a supporter group whose numbers exceeded the delegation size, close to 10% of Australia’s Jewish population was in Israel in July 2017, closely followed by thousands more on social media.
Importantly Maccabi is a Zionist sports organisation and is focused on strengthening its links with Israel and the Jewish community generally. Maccabi Australia is part of Maccabi World Union (MWU) who represent some 500,000 members in over 60 countries.
Whatever the nature of the event, a common thread runs through the history of Maccabi’ connection, continuity, friendship and health. Just as sport maintains an important role in society, Maccabi Australia has and will continue to play an intrinsic part of the fabric of the Australian Jewish Community.
The dynamics are changing
Society is changing, though. Today Australians are watching more sport than ever, but fewer Australians are playing sport and engaging in physical activity. (Aust Govt – Sport 2030 report)
Recognising the emerging changes occurring in society and our Community - foresight and action is required to ensure that Maccabi remains relevant. As such the Maccabi Leadership team across Australia has decided to broaden the organisation’s scope.
The four main purposes of the Maccabi Australia Sports Fund are to: