Chairman’s Message 2020/21


Maccabi South Africa continues to focus on delivering its core mandate – to provide a sustainable and meaningful programme of sporting activities, including both recreation and competition, which serves to benefit and enrich the Jewish community.


Following a constitutional review, a new Board of Directors was elected at the AGM at the end of 2019: Clifford Garrun (Chairman), Leslie Cohen (Treasurer), Rosalynne Goldin, Desmond Hyman, Brad Kaftel, Ashley Kotzin, Lawrence Sacke and David Silverman (WP). I am confident we have achieved the best structure, together with a talented group of leaders whose credibility, knowledge and experience provides the direction to deliver a commercially viable and sustainable community sports organisation into the future.

Mervyn Tankelowitz, who served as Maccabi SA President from 2010 – 2019, moved into a new consultancy role as emissary to Maccabi World Union (MWU). Winner of the coveted international Yakir Award in 2013 for services to Maccabi, Mervyn has built a strong network of friendships, which will assist Maccabi SA’s relationships within the global family.


We began 2020 on a high. Our Youth Committee returned from the Habonim and Bnei Akivah camps where we once again sponsored sports equipment and organised soccer, netball and volleyball tournaments, which have become a popular feature of the machanot.

In January, Maccabi SA’s Sports Director, Jarred Gronemann was invited to attend the Maccabi CEO Forum in Israel, which serves to connect Maccabi professionals from all over the world to plan, share best practices and build strong relationships across the territories.

Our commercial partnership programme was launched in January via a campaign in the SA Jewish Report (SAJR). It has always been our goal to attract commercial investment and our planning has paid off, as we have created an appealing environment for sponsors to partner with us. We warmly welcome Action Sports, Betway, Bidvest, DJ Coaching, Forwardzone, Garrun Group, Hatfield Motor Group and Kappa to the Maccabi family and look forward to sharing our sporting journey with them.

In January, we began the 18 month countdown to the 2021 Maccabiah. We were thrilled to see the interest and excitement in the community and were planning on entering 22 sports, with possibly one of our biggest delegations to date.

The Board appointed a Games Committee whose mandate is to ensure we take a motivated, competitive and well prepared team to Israel. We are delighted that Farrell Cohen was elected as Team Maccabi SA’s Head of Delegation. A respected physiotherapist, Cohen has served on the medical team at four Maccabiah, twice as Chief Medical Officer, and at the European Maccabi Games. We are very fortunate to have a person with Farrell’s credentials on board and have no doubt he will lead the team with distinction.

Maccabiah team trials kicked off in Johannesburg and Cape Town in February, and the excellent turnout, enthusiasm and level of competition were all positive indicators of the potential strength of Team Maccabi SA.

In preparation for trials, Maccabi SA Golf hosted an event for Juniors where they had an informative session on all the rules and regulations of the game.

We also selected a competitive dance team to compete in our inaugural entry into the Jewish Community Centres (JCC) Games for teens, taking place in San Diego, USA in July 2020.

In February, Maccabi SA Rugby once again delivered an impressive performance at the Cape Town 10s, with a resounding victory in the quarter final, winning 26-5. They then narrowly lost in the Plate Semi-Final, 10-7. The squad, sponsored by Forwardzone, was managed and coached by our Rugby Convenor Brad Berger, assisted by Jon Biderman-Pam. Maccabi SA was one of the youngest teams competing in the event, but this did not deter them as they gave it their all until the final whistle. The Maccabi SA Player of the Tournament was UCT’s Tom Walker, whose father Brett was in the powerful SA team that won gold at the 1989 Maccabi Games.


Covid-19 changed our lives immeasurably and will likely have an impact for the foreseeable future. All our events were cancelled, sponsorships frozen and the world was put on hold. However, we used the lockdown period productively to digitally connect with our community and reach new audiences.

We started with a weekly PowerBrain Quiz, in association with mentalist Michael Abrahamson, which exercised our minds. We then launched a highly competitive Maccabi SA FIFA20 eSports Championship, with the two finalists invited to participate in an intercontinental FIFA20 tournament hosted by the European Maccabi Confederation. Our thanks to Kappa for sponsoring prizes for both events.

We took part in various webinars and panels, including MWU’s global Yom HaShoah service and Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations for Israel’s 72nd birthday. I took part in a sports panel hosted by SAJR and in July we were part of a worldwide Maccabi service that commemorated those that have sadly lost their lives to Covid-19. For Mandela Day, we collected sports equipment to donate to underprivileged sports teams, and Maccabi Western Province donated face shields to CSO in support of the valuable work they do.


The postponement of the Summer Olympics to July 2021, which would have been at the same time as the Maccabiah, resulted in the wise decision to reschedule our ‘Jewish Olympics’. This allows Jewish athletes from around the world to compete alongside Israeli Olympic athletes and, as the pandemic continues, is more feasible in terms of preparation time.

The 21st Maccabiah will now take place in 2022 and we look forward to marching into the Opening Ceremony on 14th July, flying our SA flag with pride. We are #TeamMaccabiSA22.


The difficult economic climate is a challenge for Maccabi and we are exploring how to best navigate this new reality. At the time of writing, as we emerge from lockdown and find our feet, we are optimistic that we will be able to kick off planning for the Maccabiah as well as return to our regular programme of events as soon as circumstances allow.

2021 is our 85th anniversary since the establishment of the Johannesburg Maccabi association in 1936, and we are proud to celebrate and share the historic images of our many achievements throughout this diary. Since our small team of 19 athletes first marched into the stadium for the 2nd Maccabiah, we have been proudly South African, proudly Jewish and proudly Zionist. Maccabi SA has been deeply rooted in the community for over eight decades and we look forward to continuing to deliver a valuable service with purpose and passion.

As always, we extend our grateful thanks to our Sports Director and the team of volunteers who form the vital core of our organisation and who have supported us through a challenging year.

Wishing you a healthy, safe and sporting 2021.

Clifford Garrun

Chairman of the Board

Maccabi South Africa