Believed to have been the last surviving member of Maccabi in that country, Louis Gecelter was born in Lithuania in 1919. He and his family then emigrated to South Africa in 1937 as they could not get the correct certificates for then Palestine.
Upon arriving in South Africa he immediately joined the local Jewish sports club (Balfour Park Sports Club) established by athletes who had attended the 2nd Maccabiah in 1935.
After World War Two where he volunteered in the South African Air-force and become so involved in the Maccabi organisation that he affectionately became known as Mister Maccabi. Louis managed many aspects and sections of the famous Jewish Guild Club and helped to mentor founders to create 8 Maccabi Clubs in Johannesburg and even more around South Africa.
As a department of the South Africa Zionist Federation, Maccabi was chiefly organised by Louis from the 1950’s. From 1950 – 1977, he was in charge of recruiting and organising delegations that were attending the Maccabiah in Israel. From 1967 – 1972, he became the Chairman of Maccabi South Africa.
Louis also played a role in the greater Maccabi Movement. He was an IMC and Executive Member of Maccabi World Union in Israel from 1962 – 1997, thereafter he was awarded the title of MWU Honorary Vice-President.
Louis and his wife made Aliyah in 1979 to Israel. From 1980 – 2000 he served as the President of the Kfar Maccabiah Lawn Bowls Club. Louis was awarded the prestigious Yakir Maccabi Award in 1986 for his outstanding contribution to the movement.
Maccabi South Africa thanks Louis Gecelter for his wonderful, rich and meaningful contribution to the Maccabi Movement over the years.
Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet. May his memory be a blessing.
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