I was already a student at the old and prestigious “Unirea” College in Focsani when I heard of “Maccabi”, - a sports organization of the Jewish youth. About the family of the Maccabeus and Hanukkah I learned in the Jewish History classes that we attended while our Christian schoolmates attended their Religion classes.
I was playing football (same as every boy) and watched admiringly some teenagers attempting to learn how to box. A small sum of money was collected and one of the boys (Ficu Israel – Sareii) traveled to Bucharest and returned as a champion (we were all at the railway station to welcome him), proudly showing us a pair of boxing gloves, bought at “Mociornita”. Later on we began to play ping-pong (among others, with Zozo Beldner), fencing (we had a fencing room in a basement), and in the summer we had a place to practice gymnastics at various devices, played tennis and volley-ball, with a good team (with Sami Lupu, Victor Cioarna, Herman Nadler and others) and in 1929-1939 we became a leading team for Maccabi in Romania. The youth team – I being the captain – (with Juma Lupu, Sicu Beldner, Tica Reisner etc) scored first in the town when we defeated (in 1933) the team of the Young Legionnaires, the active supporters of the new branch of the “Iron Guard”. We defeated them on their own playground, although the voices of their fans were much stronger than ours (very few of our fans have dared to accompany us) and we left proudly, but dreading we might be battered.
It was through Maccabi that money was collected for the Keren Hayesod – funds; we visited in pairs the flats and shops of the Jewish citizens, emptying the blue money boxes with the Star of David. We encountered unpleasant situations as well, when we found nothing in the boxes and their slightly embarrassed owners gave us some money, maybe more than we’d found inside the box.
But over the course of the years we became less and less engaged in sports, sometimes we practiced it only in the summer, in the big vacation. Later, owing to the racist legislation, Maccabi was dissolved and re-established after 1944, until the Communists again dissolved it.