«Jewish Observer»
April 2002
5762 Iyar

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Among the Jewish sport clubs of the pre-war Europe, such as "Khakoakh-Vena", "Vivo-a.i.-Budapest", "Bar-Kokhba-Berlin", "Khagibor-Praga", the most well-known was "Hasmoneya-Rovno".

In 1918 a sport section "Makkabi" was created in Rovno on the initiative of the Gistadrut leadership, the first "gymnastic" evening took place. Several months later such well-known Jewish football players as M.Gornstein, S.Gimberg and others left the Rovno sports club and came to the "Makkabi". The football team held several successful matches against its opponents: the "Sportclub-Rovno" and "Yakor-Zdolbunov". The first gymnastic sport yard was built, gymnastic trainings started in one of the Talmud-Torah halls.

The first gymnastic competitions took place in 1920. That was the demonstration of the Jewish power, which strongly impressed all those present. At the beginning of 1923 the "Makkabi" managed to win the match against the combined team from Volyn, which created new opportunities for the team.

Unfortunately, the work was stopped by the Polish administration not allowing the club to further exist under the title "Makkabi".

Only past a few months (after multiple requests) the club managed to get legalized under the title "Hasmoneya". An official opening ceremony of a new-old club "Hasmoneya" took place at the sport field "Sokol" on August 18, 1923.

An intensive work begins: boxing and aquatics sections are created. Some Jewish schools use the "Hasmoneya" halls for sport exercises. At the end of 1923 the club enters the Lublin football district and takes part in its competitions.

April 25, 1924 a sport field was solemnly opened. In 1925 the club managed to obtain the yard for gymnastics.

In 1927 the club received a white-blue flag, which emphasized the Zionist orientation of its members. The Club's Board delegated two sportsmen to the National Land Fund Deputies' Council. That year they also opened a yard for gymnastics and a tennis court.

In 1928 the "Hasmoneya" football team won the cup of the "Ekho Volyns'ke" newspaper. 700 Jewish children from three schools held trainings in the club building. The sections of sport games, tennis, bike and motosport were developing. The club strongly held the title of the Volyn football champion or vice-champion. Its boxing team became the best in Eastern Poland.

At the beginning of 1933 the club was constructing its own stadium. The Jewish population of Rovno helped the club in that. A road was built through the bog; a perfect tribune for several thousands of spectators was under construction. The "Hasmoneya" of Rovno was the only Jewish sports club with its own stadium. The club's skating rink was very popular among the Rovno youth. The soon created hockey club used to win prize places.

In 1933 the club opened its own beach to hold competitions in aquatics.

In 1934 the "Hasmoneya" football team became the Volyn champion for the second time and represented the Volyn district in the top football league of Poland. All Jews "supported" the only Jewish sports club in Poland participating in such competitions.

That year a well known "Khakoakh" club from Vienne -the champion of the Austrian football league- visited Rovno. More than 20 thousand spectatorss gathered at this historical match. The "Hasmoneya" won 4:3.

In 1936 the football competitions of the Polish "Makkabi" clubs from Warsaw, Krakow, Vilno, Lvov, Rowno were held in Rovno. And again the "Hasmoneya" became the winner. The young football team became the champion of the Volyn football district in 1937 and represented the district at the competitions in Kozhenits, Poland, being the only Jewish team.

In 1938 the Jews of Poland celebrated the 20-th anniversary of the Rovno "Hasmoneya" club. Hundreds of guests arrived from mony countries of the world to visit the jubilee competitions. Thousands of people participated in the carnival at the "Hasmoneya" stadium. The festivity continued in the main street of Rovno, then in the Zafran and people's theater.

But a year later the war began. On September 17, 1939 the Red Army entered Rovno. That was the tragic end of the "Hasmoneya". We have only the legendary stories to tell our children and grandchildren.


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© 2002 Jewish Confederation of Ukraine - www.jewukr.org