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The best Hungarian performance at the Maccabiah so far
The Hungarian delegation closed the Maccabi World Games with thirty-three medals, including 6 gold, 8 silver and 19 bronze, in which they participated for the first time in 1993. This accumulation of medals means that the Hungarian team has its most successful Maccabiah performance to date!
Ninety years after the first Games in 1932, the 21st Maccabiah was held this year. The 90th anniversary was the focus of the current Games, and the museum’s new building, which was completely renovated in recent years, was dedicated to this incredible milestone! The Hungarian presence at the exhibition is outstanding, with countless relics and various materials, with interesting reading that evokes the past and inspires the present.
While there was no independent Israel in 1932, nearly 400 athletes from 18 countries took part in the event in Tel Aviv. This year, in 2022, 10,000 athletes from more than 60 countries were waiting for the competitions in Israel, which has existed for 74 years, in the shadow of COVID19, which was still a serious challenge for the organizers and delegations. But despite taking great care and safety measurements, there were cases of illness in almost every team – including the Hungarian team. Unfortunately, they were forced to withdraw or, in a luckier case, had to miss a few matches. This led to some disappointment from the players, but thankfully this did not significantly affect the atmosphere of the games as a whole.
A somber commemoration was held to remember the opening of the 1997 Games, when a small bridge had to be crossed for the participants to enter the stadium. The bridge could not withstand the significant number of athletes marching in celebration. The pedestrian bridge leading to Tel Aviv’s Ramat Gan Stadium collapsed, carrying members of the Australian Maccabiah team (then hundreds) plunging into the Yarkon River or clinging to the shattered pieces of the bridge. Four people lost their lives in the tragedy, several were hospitalized, even for many months; being treated not for their injuries, but for the infection caused by the fungus found in the Yarkon water.
This year, Australia sent 560 athletes, the third largest team, and the entire delegation attended the commemoration to honor the memory of the four victims.
As has become customary in recent times, the opening ceremony was held at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, which, as usual, began with the entry of the teams. Israel was represented by 3,000 competitors, while the United States was represented by 1,500. Not long before the ceremony, the American team was able to take part in a private reception, where their president, Joe Biden, who was currently in Israel, hosted the members of the team. Biden is the first US president to attend a Maccabiah!
In addition to the mentioned two countries, the Ukrainians received a huge applause, and as is often the case, so did the nations marching with small numbers. We can proudly declare that all teams had their time in the sun, showered with applause and cheers.
The applause also goes out to the members of the Hungarian delegation! Almost all delegations congratulated the execution of the Hungarian uniform, especially the one worn at the opening, which had the signature of Ágnes Keleti, and which had a serious and special message for the Hungarian participants.
Of course, the team deserves recognition not only for this, but also because they won 33 medals, surpassing all previous achievements. Since several teams were able to stand on the podium, the number of medals was much higher; 51 of our athletes, which is more than half of the delegation, returned home with medals.
The first gold was won by Vivien Várnai, a duelist who was forced to quit elite sports, who also won a silver in the team.
In karate, Laura Sterck defended her 2017 championship during the form exercises, and came second in the fight, while she collected another 2 silver and 1 bronze in the various team competitions. The Beck family was able to return home happy, as the parents (Péter and Kata) and the children (Noémi and Simon) were also able to stand on the podium, and together in the team competition for each gender. The master of the team, Zsolt Büchler, who competed in the men’s and mixed teams, also finished with two bronze medals.
Among the athletes, Béla Kádár was able to stand on the top step of the podium after winning the 10 kilometer race of his age group. While András Lőwy (40-49) started alone on the same distance.
The junior water polo players also came first, even though the referees interfered badly in their match against the hosts during the group matches. But the guys fought back for this defeat at the right place and time, in the final.
Many interesting – rather, hair-raising – judgments upset the mood in the adult matches as well. The team had a great start to the semi-final against the Americans, and then the match became increasingly close. Then, in the final game, the judges made a controversial decision: there were only seven (7) seconds left in the game when they gave the Yankees a passable but opinionated man advantage, who shot it in and won. The Americans easy win against Israel was disheartening. The polo players, however, after the bronze 9 years ago and the silver 5 years ago, were not shy about their intention of going for the gold. The above-mentioned verdict deprived them of this opportunity, and in the end they collected the bronze, with a victory in the small final.
The swimmers also won many silver and bronze medals, but our golfer was also able to stand on the podium, as well as three Hungarians as members of the international ice hockey team.
The Maccabi VAC opened the 2021 Hungarian Delegation registrtation for the 2022 Maccabi World Games.
15. Maccabi European Games
Following the 2015 Berlin Games, both Basel and Budapest submitted applications, competing for the spot to host the 2019 Games.
On November 15, 2015, at the Congress of the European Maccabi Association held in Budapest, the leaders of the Maccabi member states finally voted by a large majority in favor of the Maccabi VAC tender in Budapest. Many factors contributed to the success of the application. The geographical location of Budapest, its easy accessibility, its vision of the future and its cultural, historical and Jewish heritage served as a convincing argument for the Hungarian capital. In addition to diversity, the many international sports events taking place in the city and the related sports infrastructure built around them have increased the chances of winning votes, which has been further strengthened by past international successes of famous Hungarian Jewish athletes and sports leaders.
It is important to note that the Maccabi Europe Games were first held in Prague in 1929 and since then, no event has taken place in this region. So, after 90 years, the Maccabi Europe Games is back to its roots, and the event is not only about local Jews and their society, but also an important regional event.
The 15. Maccabi Europe Games took place on July 29th – August 7th, 2019. During these 10 days, the largest multisport event ever took place, with nearly 3,000 participants from 42 countries. The Hungarian delegation deployed the largest team of all time with 250 participants.
Adam Jusztin, co-chairman of the organizing committee and chairman of the Maccabi VAC, has participated in numerous Maccabi Games as an athlete and sports organizer.
He believes that they have met all the requirements and left no sense of unpreparedness, and he is extremely proud of the results of the Hungarian team. “I predicted 30 medals for the Hungarian team, but their results far exceeded expectations: 49 gold, 28 silver and 23 bronze medals were collected in total”, similar to Germany or Great Britain.
To highlight the success of the Maccabi Europe Games in Budapest, he also quoted a message from a Hungarian Maccabi athlete, Tamás Kaufer: “It was a defining day in my life, I could take on my Jewishness, it was a liberating feeling.”
14th Maccabi Pan Am Games
The 14th Maccabi Pan Am Games took place at the begining of July 2019, before the Maccabi European Games in Budapest. The Hungarian Maccabi VAC team participated in the games together with Maccabi GB, and other European countries.
It is important to underline that this was the first time a Hungarian Delegation of this size attended the Maccabi PAN AM Games. The delegation included Maccabi’s VAC water polo team, two triathletes and a golf player.
The Hungarian water polo team won a gold medal. Peter Hajdú, triathlete, won two silver and one bronze medal during the event.
Maccabi VAC Hungary was ranked 13th in the games, and placed first among the European countries in Pan Am games.
Maccabi Youth Games, Israel
The Maccabi Fencing and Athletic Club – the only one in Hungary – provides Hungarian Jewish athletes with access to the Maccabi World and Europe Games, and now to the Maccabi Youth Games.
Within the World Federation, Maccabi Youth Games were held for the first time in Israel (Haifa and Jerusalem) this year. The event is held every 4 years. with 800 Jewish youth in the 14-16 age group from 10 countries.
In addition to sports competitions, participants also attended cultural events during the 10-day program (July 23-August 1, 2018). The youngest athlete in the field was Hungarian.
Team members and coach: Marcell Földes, Gábor Molnár, Péter Benke, Lukács Jancsó, Noam Dankó, Dávid Nyíri Simon Leskó, Bence Herceg, Brown Marczali, Dániel Fodor, Ferenc Steer Results : Date: July 24, 2018 score: Hungary-Argentina: 4: 2 for the Hungarians
Date: July 25, 2018 morning score: Italy-Hungary: 7: 3 for the Italians
Date: July 25, 2018 afternoon score: Brazil-Hungary: 5: 2 for the Brazilians
Date: July 26, 2018 score: Hungary-Israel: 10: 8 for the Hungarians Bronze match
Date: July 27, 2018 score: Hungary-Israel: 4: 2 for the Hungarians
Marci Földes became the top scorer for MYG 2018 games with 19 goals.
Hungarians kicked most goals with 23 goals.
Maccabi VAC Participation in the 20th Maccabi World Games
The Maccabi Fencing and Athletic Club – the only one in Hungary – ensured the participation of Hungarian Jewish athletes in the Maccabi World Games. As part of a Hungarian delegation of 120, 100 athletes competed in the 20th Maccabi World Games. The largest Hungarian delegation of all time participated in the Israeli Games, which attracted nearly 10,000 athletes from 80 countries this year.
Anita Schrödl, junior sword: silver
Binet Regina, female dagger: bronze
Róbert Gátai, male dagger: silver
Singer Martin, male sword: bronze
Both the men’s sword and the men’s dagger team won bronze medals!
The Hungarian taekwondo team is the most successful foreign team in Maccabia!
Daniel Murins, 87 kg: gold
Ádám Gulyás, 87 kg: silver
Rizmayer Norbert, 58 kg: bronze
Daniel Békési, 4 × 200 speed relay swimming: bronze
János Becsey is a two-time Paralympic Champion and four-time Paralympic World Champion in bronze swimming in 50 butterflies and 50 breasts.
Women’s water polo team: silver
Men’s Water Polo Team: Silver
Zsuzsi Kunos, karate kumite adult category: gold
Laura Sterck, karate open: gold
Bálint Kroinstein, karate: silver
Elvira Kádár and S. Ernlib (ISR) women’s table tennis doubles: bronze
Szilvia Bakó table tennis junior individual: silver
Perjés Fanni, 800 meters run: bronze
András Lőwy, 10 km run: bronze
Zsófi Boros, triathlon: silver
Bridge Team: Silver
The returning Hungarian athletes, charged with energy, are evermore committed to their passion. For them, Jewish commitment became of paramount importance. For athletes, the Israeli competition was much more than a competition, in that they got a chance to get to know their own culture and their future. A goal that is closely related to Israel and Jewish culture. For Maccabi VAC, after the 2017 Maccabiah successes, there is an even greater conviction that sports are a great opportunity to get close to Jewish life. Every athlete who has participated in the race will now become an Ambassador to the Maccabiah Competition and to the Maccabi World community!
Sándor Scheiber Jewish School Gym Naming Ceremony
At the initiative of Maccabi VAC, theSándor Scheiber Jewish school’s gymnasium was named after Ágnes Keleti, former member of the VAC, a five-time Olympic champion.
EMC Congress – Budapest, Hungary
For the second time in 2015, we hosted the Maccabi VAC Congress in Maccabi Europe. The EMC Congress decided which European city to host the 15th Maccabi European Games in 2019. Budapest and Basel, Switzerland were in competition. Thanks to our preparedness, hard work and the versatility of our capital, Budapest was chosen as the venue for the 2019 Maccabi European Games.
Maccabi European Games – Berlin, Germany
The Maccabi VAC, with more than 60 Hungarian delegates, has made it to the Maccabi European Games. Our athletes with 19 medals – 7 gold, 8 silver and 4 bronze – were placed eighth on the national list. At the Berlin Olympic Games, young Jewish athletes paid tribute to the results of many outstanding Hungarian Jewish athletes.
Maccabi World Games – Israel
74 Hungarian athletes, coaches, sports leaders traveled to Israel in July 2013, representing the Maccabi Fencing and Athletic Club and Hungarian Jewry at the world’s third largest sporting event, the 19th Maccabi World Games. The Hungarian delegation was the most successful and large delegation in the history of the Maccabiah’s Hungarian participation. Hungarian athletes won 20 medals at the Games, which marks the 13th most successful country in the competition between countries.
Maccabi Europe Games – Vienna, Austria
With a newly formed Maccabi VAC presidency in 2010, the first major international event of emerging divisions took place in Vienna from 5 to 13 July, which was none other than the Maccabi Europe Games. At the Games, the Hungarian delegation were represented by 45 people, athletes and sports leaders in 7 sports. The Hungarian team finished with 1 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal. The Hungarian delegation held a prominent position on the medal table. The team’s outstanding competitors:
Péter Kőhalmi: 1 gold and 1 silver medal (tennis)
Kálmán Ferencfalvy: 1 silver medal (tennis)
Péter Temes and Róbert Fodor: bronze (table tennis)
The Maccabi VAC’s current logo, which in its caption shows the club’s relationship with Israel, at the same time, proudly emphasizes Hungarian Jewish identity by using the colors of the Hungarian flag and displaying the Star of David symbol. The redesign of the logo was initiated by the new president. After 12 years in the presidency, after József Horváth, Ádám Jusztin took over the leadership of the club in 2010.
Maccabi World Games – Israel
The Hungarian team in the Maccabiah event achieved outstanding results this year. The team of 30 won 6 medals and all of its athletes performed outstandingly.
Sports Day with the Israeli Embassy
The association organized a Sports Day/Yom Hatzmaut event with the Israeli Embassy, attended by more than 1000 people.
JCC Maccabi Games – Akron, Detroit
A delegation of 11 (a youth football team aged 14-16) participated in the Maccabi Tournament in America.
Michael Kevehazi Award
Michael Kevehazi, who played a very active role in rebuilding the club in 1989, and continued to support Hungarian Maccabi throughout the years died in January 2007. The association’s presidency established the “Michal Kevehazi Medallion for the Most Improved Player of the Year” award. So far, Hanna Keresztúr and Orsolya Nagy have received the award.
Membership in the Hungarian Zionist Federation
Maccabi VAC became a member of the Hungarian Zionist Association.
Maccabi Europe Games – Rome, Italy
The Hungarian delegation returned home with 4 medals from the Rome competition. A football team, a fencing and karate athlete, and a wallball squad, table tennis and tennis athlete represented the Maccabi VAC.
Australia Maccabi Games
Ádám S. Kovács, karate competitor representing the Hungarian Maccabi, won a gold medal.
The Maccabi VAC celebrated its 100th anniversary of the original founding of the club in 1906.
Maccabi World Games – Israel
Maccabi’s VAC’s resources allowed relatively few athletes to travel in 2005. Nevertheless, the team once again achieved an outstanding performance and won 8 medals.
Jewish Community Forum
The Jewish Community Forum, initiated by András Heisler, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the famous sports club on June 11 in Zugló with one of the founding members of the MATÁV Post-Course, Maccabi VAC, as a family day. Almost all Jewish organizations participated in the Jubilee Sports Day, and an article can be found on Mazsike’s website:
Maccabi Europe Games – Antwerp, Belgium
The participation of the Hungarian team was outstanding despite the relatively small number of participants. Our team took 4th place on the international medal chart.
Maccabi World Games – Israel
The Maccabi VAC presidency was presented with a major decision to participate in the Games. The terrorist threats have long forced the organizers of world games, including Hungarian leaders, to resign from participation. Although significantly smaller in number, the games were held in which the Hungarian team participated, and in addition, they closed the competition with a number of medals.
Maccabi Europe Games – Scotland
Athletes from the association took part in the European Maccabi Games in Scotland, where a delegation of just 28 won 14 medals. This was the most successful team in the European Games in Hungary to date. The team also finished in the top spots among the European teams. At this time, the new president, József Horváth, who had been elected in 1998, was leading the association.
Maccabi World Games – Israel
The Hungarian delegation took part in the competition, where the strong karate division showed their talent with numerous medals. In 1997, the women’s basketball team achieved its greatest success. The team lost the match in the final and became silver medalists.
European Games – Netherlands
Athletes from the association took part in the European Games in Amsterdam, where the karate team rose above other countries and earned many medals. The men’s basketball team had a remarkably strong win and has been among the team’s success stories ever since.
European Maccabi Bridge Games – Budapest, Hungary
The card party was represented by 12 nations. The Hungarian Maccabi bridge team, with players István Gerő, Zoltán Kovács, György Szász and Péter Gál earned a gold medal in the tournament.
Maccabi World Games – Israel
The 1993 Maccabiah is an outstanding group in the history of the Hungarian delegations. The very large number of teams, almost 80, was one of the largest delegations among teams in European countries. For the first time, junior athletes participated in the Games, representing Hungary and later returned an adult athletes in later European and World competitions.
Dr. András Bleyer, who was the president of the association between 1992 and 1999, contributed to the outstanding work of Jewish youth playing sports in Hungary, both in regular sports and in the World Games. Karate and Basketball were established for the first time under the leadership of Katalin Mezei and Miklós Varga. Dr. András Bleyer is the second president of the association and Vice President Dr. Eva Dános created an opportunity for the athletes of the association to participate in international events. Michael Kevehazi z”l, former president of the World Maccabi Organization, who was the honorary president of the VAC until his death, was of great help.
Maccabi Europe Games – Marseille, France
The first Maccabi Europe Games, where the Hungarian team was represented. Our bridge team attended the event.
European Maccabi Bridge Games – Glasgow, Scotland
The Brige team of the association, György Ciffer, Arthur Kriger, András Talyigás and András Bleyer won a silver medal in the competition.
The Rebirth of the Maccabiah
With the support, leadership and guidance of Michael Kevehazi, who later became president and prominent leader of the Maccabi World Federation, Dr. János Gonda led the rebuilding of the club and became a member of the Maccabi World Federation that year. In fact, in 1989, the club’s athletes attended the first international event, the 13th Maccabi World Games (Maccabiah), the largest Jewish community and sports event in the world. Every four years, thousands of athletes from all over the world travel to Israel. After the 13th Maccabiah, the team entered several European Games (Amsterdam 1995, Scotland 1999). Since then, the Association has participated and represented Hungary in all World Games and Europe Games, and has also hosted the Maccabi Bridge European Championship and the General Assembly of the Maccabi Europe Federation. The Maccabi VAC’s second logo, which is already a clearly illustrates joining the Maccabi World Federation, contains one of the major symbols of Judaism, the Star of David.
An attempt was made to re-establish the association in the fifties, but the communist system made it impossible and banned Maccabi VAC.
Maccabi Shuts Down
After all conditions and means for keeping the club open had ceased, the club closed its doors in 1949.
A New Start
Extreme enthusiasm was needed to restart the association after the war. Elek Klein, who has outstanding talents, became the new president of the club, but the new president’s excellent organizational skills and talents did not prove to be enough to keep the club alive.
The adoption of anti-Jewish law put the VAC in an impossible position. The association was banned and the VAC did not work for several years. Many members, racers and leaders of the club were victims of the war and many died in concentration camps and labor camps.
Hundreds of athletes of both sexes played sports in the various divisions, and the number of members of the association reached 1,000. Due to our limited resources, it is not possible to recall the memory of every successful athlete and coach, but it should be noted that the association had held in equal importance the preparation and competitions of top athletes and educating young generations. The first headquarters of the VAC was a gymnasium in the school at 44 Wesselényi Street in the VII district. In this building was the secretary of the association. The second important establishment of the association was the Jewish High School of Abonyi Street, which was built in the thirties. This building houses a modern gym and sports ground. The first gymnastics teacher at the school was Zoltán Dückstein, who did a lot of physical education for young people outside the school. In 1933, the VAC basketball team won a silver medal in the Hungarian Championship! In the fifties, a member of this team and of the Hungarian national team was Klein Rudolf (Ralph Klein), who later played an outstanding role in the creation of Israeli basketball and became the legendary coach of Maccabi’s Tel Aviv team. The association joined the Maccabi World Federation. Like the Maccabi clubs around the world, the club considered keeping Jewish traditions a priority.
Between 1921 and 1926, the football players played in the top class, and as a result, some players ended up as members of the National Eleven (for example: Lajos Fisher, Dezső Grósz II, Miklós Singer). The gymnastics section was led by József Szalai, a former athlete of the association, a multiple Hungarian champion. The VAC gymnasts won the national team championship in 1926. Zoltán Dückstein was a member of the winning team and later played a significant role in the life of the association. The association played an important role in the promotion of the newly formed sport of handball. Szalai and Dückstein translated and published the first rulebook in Hungarian for this new sport.
The First Years
During the first years of its operation, VAC operated only the gymnastics and fencing department; the latter was led by Dr. Andor Zsoldos, a prominent figure in the management team.
Founding of the Maccabi VAC
Lajos Dömény founded the first Jewish sports club, the Hungarian Fencing and Athletic Club, otherwise known as the Maccabi VAC. Both Jewish youths who had previously been to another club and those who had not belonged to a sports organization before joined the association. The first logo of the VAC, which, if we connect its angles, becomes the Star of David.