«Jewish Observer»
April 2002
5762 Iyar

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Jokes about physical development of the Jews is one of the brightest chapter of an anti-Semitic folklore.

The truthfulness (or injustice) of these wisecracks we will leave outside the article. Although there is no smoke without a fire - an exclusively city way of life (during the centuries) and prohibition to have some "healthy" professions created an image of sickly, hollow-chested and crooked-legged "invalids of the fifth line". Despite impressive achievements of Jews-sportsmen of new time in such "aggressive" kinds of sports as boxing (especially in 1920s in the USA), wrestling, heavy athletics including swimming and figure skating a typical Diaspora Jew is a four-eyed intellectual with a very "smart" book. The Jewish sports society "Makkabi" is called to improve this situation. This society exists in many countries and periodically holds Jewish Olympiads (that is, the Makkabiads) in Israel. There are, as a rule, no outstanding records at such competitions. Though, the most well-known Israeli basketball player of all times Tal Brodi firstly visited his historical land being a member of the USA "Makkabi" combined team.

There are also Ukrainian "Makkabis". Thus, the all-Ukrainian Easter Makkabiada with 450 participants has been organized by the Kiev city Jewish community, "Makkabi-Kiev" society and Association of Ukrainian "Makkabi" organizations. Beside the pupils of practically all day and evening Kiev Jewish schools, "Sohnut" scholls, the Israeli cultural center, there were also guests from Vinnitsa and Zhitomir at the "Dynamo" sports complex. From 10.00 till 17.00 on March 24 children competed in table tennis, chess, draughts, basketball. They had funny starts and the combined team of the Jewish schools and "Sohnut" madriha's teachers played volleyball. As always, there were some slips - kosher food from the grill bar "Makkabi" arrived an hour and a half later. The teachers of physical culture didn't always manage to keepan eye on the children and the latter did whatever they liked. Some participants didn't arrive at the competitions at all. In general, everything was like it always happens at any Jewish event.

As the Executive Director of "Makkabi-Kiev" Evgeny Greben said, the "popular" character of the sports society's activity is one of its principles. The competitions are held in all kinds of sports, in all age categories and these are, in the first turn, public events, not professional competitions. The Olympiad in kickboxing was the beginning. It was attended by children from Kiev, Donetsk, Kharkov and Vinnitsa. There also were some tournaments held at boarding school #299. More "representative" character has the JSS "Makkabi-Ukraine" that delegates its sportsmen to world Makkabiads, which demands rather big expenses. "Popularity" and "representativeness" is the main difference between two biggest Jewish sports organizations in Ukraine.

The common plus is the participation of such different organizations in the cmpetitions. They would have never gathered together in other cases. However, the "Makkabi-Kiev" has lately gained popularity and respect in the professional sport. Among the alumni of the club there are Kiev champions and prizewinners in karate and kickboxing. The staff-member of the Galitskaya synagogue Andrey Ilyash has recently won the championship of Ukraine in contact karate. Earlier the Jewish football team participated in mini-football championships. A fresh idea of the Kiev "Makkabi" is to fill the gap that has emergeded after the oblivion of such popular game as "Zarnitsa" and termination of the competitions in military training. The club plans to revive the sports military games our children are deprived of. It would be great to include into our Makkabiads military competitions - assembling and disassembling of machineguns, grenade throwing, surmounting of obstacles, press-ups and tightening - says Yevgeny. But ... there is always a banal "but". For now all training activity of the "Makkabi" is confined to kickboxing due to the lack of money. The only assistance the society receives is the free of charge rent of the gym at school #299 . Probably, this is not a Jewish feature to be strong not only spiritually, but physically as well...


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