Parkview Weizmann

  1937 Club House                                                                                                     

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Parkview Weizmann Sport Club - History

The idea of a Jewish club was first mentioned in the early 1930s, by Samuel Rabinovitz among others, but no progress was made for some time. This may be because the community felt it was too small or that the leadership lacked imagination or that the community was nervous about segregation.

The Parkview Tennis Club began under the leadership of Archie Landau and Bennie Goldstein. Most Jewish tennis payers at the time were members of Queens Sports Club, where antsemitism was a problem. In 1936 some Jews decided it was time to start their own tennis club, again amid opposition from others who felt it was elitist and insisted the club be inter-denominational.

However, Wallenstein’s plot, which still had various market garden vegetables growing on it, was leased. Two tennis courts and a small thatched pavilion were built for about £ 700. On July 3rd 1937 Parkview Tennis Club was born and the pavilion was opened by Mr. D. MacIntyre MO, Mayor of Bulawayo.

Mr. Goldstein convened the Foundation Committee in December 1936. Parkview grew and prospered even though more than 40 members were away on active service during the war. Willie Fredman formed an Actions Committee in 1952 to buy the land, approximately 11 acres. Freddy Reiff recalls that one Sunday afternoon, he and Mr. Fredman called on Mr. Segal, who lived in a small house on the grounds, and after much persuasion, they negotiated to buy his unexpired 25-year lease for £5,000. He moved shortly thereafter.

Others on this committee were Charles Whiteson, Sydney Gruber, Eli Zacks, Gus Fredman and Joe Davidoff. Foundation membership cost £100, made up of an initial £15 deposit and a monthly stop order of £2. Another innovation for the club was that it soon became known for its non-racial stance and was the first multi-racial club in Bulawayo.

Junior tennis enures the future of any club. Parkview was lucky have to the enthusiastic help of Lily Fryde. It was she who started the junior tennis section and she built it up to become the pride of the club.
Bowls started in 1954 with the opening of the Ralstein and Grossberg greens by the mayor, J M MacDonald. These were put down by Paddy Gallagher and were maintained by Dick Powell. Three more were added, the Schur, Zlattner and Kantor greens, and they soon earned a reputation of being the best in the Federation, if not southern Africa. It became necessary to organise bowls along proper lines and in 1954, a Men's Committee headed by Harry Rosenberg and a Ladies' Committee headed by Lily Rosenberg, were started.

Parkview Actions Committee, 1952. Willie Fredman, Charles Whiteson, Sydney Gruber, Eli Zacks, Gus Fredman, Joe Davidoff.

An important factor in this section's rapid growth was the splendid representation of the Bulawayo and District Bowling Association by Parkview delegates.

Mention should be made of Sonny Jacobson and Sonny Kaplan, who were president and secretary respectively for three terms. With such excellent facilities, Parkview went on to stage the SA Inter Provincial Tournament and became a venue for the National Bowls.

A handsome donation from Annie Gruber helped build a squash court in January 1955. At the first AGM, David Salomon was elected chairman. The Gruber court was one of the finest of its day and with 70 active members, they went on to win the Men's Squash League for the first time. Later a second court was added and named after that doyen of squash, Issy Sarif, who coached many players.

Parkview Sports Club was now lucky to receive a new 99-year lease direct from the City Council.

Table tennis began in 1957 and by 1961 Parkview was the largest table tennis club in the city. The ladies' section won its league three years in a row. That year also saw the opening of the basketball court built with the help of Maccabi.

At the sixth AGM in 1959, Sid Gruber, club chairman, reported the money situation good and amenities were of the highest standard of any club in Southern Rhodesia. Children were specially catered for and a professional tennis coach was on duty every Sunday afternoon.

Parkview held a banquet for the club's Silver Jubilee in 1961, attended by many dignitaries and members. Many toasts were proposed led by Mr. A Landau, the first club chairman and a sumptuous meal made it a memorable event.

The swimming and paddling pools were opened in September 1962 by chairman Freddy Reiff. Guests of Honour included Members of Parliament and city councilors and the first plunge into the water was taken by Marilyn Sidelsky, a well-known Rhodesian swimmer. There was a full social programme, which included bowls, a fun fair, children's events, diving and swimming displays by Rhodesian and South African title holders, a water polo match, and a mannequin parade, followed by a braai.

More recently in 1980 Sonny Jacobson attained the highest position in the world of bowls when he was elected president of the International Bowling Board. He was a founder of the original Parkview Club and served for many years on the Rhodesian Olympic Council.

The Jewish Guild also provided the stimulus for the formation of the Weizmann Country Club, in 1950. After the war, people wanted more social activities and the minutes of the Bulawayo Jewish Guild show how they tried to find land which could be developed. The founding of lsrael in 1948 gave many a new sense of consciousness which made an impact on the community.

Various sites were looked at outside Bulawayo, one where the Bulawayo Country Club is now situated. The story goes that the owners, two prominent Jewish businessmen, did not want to be accused of having profited out of the community, so the land changed hands at least twice, before being sold to the Bulawayo Country Club.

On October 11th 1948, at a business meeting not connected with communal matters, Mr. W Lowenthal mentioned a property of 230 acres for sale, with buildings on it that would lend themselves to a country club.
The idea of a Jewish country club was enthusiastically discussed. The site was inspected and plans went into action. People were canvassed for financial support. As there was no time to decide on a club constitution, it was decided to offer shares in a non-profit making company, which would buy the land. To avoid any group or individual securing control, no person could take up more than 200 shares at £1 each. To avoid isolation, the club was not professedly Jewish or otherwise, but there is no doubt that most wanted it to be a Jewish club.

Wonderland Estates, at Gumtree bordering Matopos (about 20 kms outside Bulawayo off the old Essexvale Road), was bought at a reduced price of £13,000 and at the first shareholders' meeting on December 6 1948, the first Board of Directors included Mr. Sarif as chairman, Mr. W Lowenthal as vice-chairman and Mr. J Rabins as secretary.

The community opened its heart and its coffers to help develop water and electricity supplies. Cash donations, interest free loans and other help were freely given.

In May 1949, another meeting was held where it was estimated that a further £10,000 was needed for development over 18 months. Major decisions were made: that a Jewish Club be formed; that its name be the Bulawayo Jewish Country Club; and that a provisional committee would frame its constitution. Mr. I Isaacson was appointed convener.

The club's first function was a disaster! When shareholders were invited for a look-see, not only did the heating fail, so tea was made on a primus stove, but a prominent Jewish citizen drove his car into a hole and was not left with a good impression.

Meanwhile, the constitution was drafted and adopted provisionally. Mary Segal, of Cape Town, got Dr Chaim Weizmann's consent from Israel to use his name.

The First General Meeting was held in March I 950. The constitution was adopted and the First Council Committee (Mr. P Eagle - president) and the First Executive Committee (Mr. A Sarif - chairman) were elected.

At this stage, there were about 60 members but by the next month's meeting it had more than doubled. Yom Ha'Atzmaut and other social functions were held at the club, which still had limited facilities. Electricity was connected in August 1950 at 7.30 pm in time for a dance starting at 9 pm. Needless to say; the electrician was a guest just in case of a breakdown!

The club-house was cosy and intimate, even though it was a large residence. The kitchen was well equipped, the minutes say, with "electrical fittings and devices to simplify and speed the work". Preparation began for bowling greens, tennis courts and other amenities. Most importantly a liquor licence was obtained.

Two large dams were built with the help of Mr. S Loewenson from the Irrigation Department to supply water for the grounds which were planted with trees, flowers and lawn. Other features included swimming and paddling pools, designed by Leonora Granger, and a children's playing field.

The first bowling green was made ready thanks to a donation from Isaac Pieters, and the help of Col Sonny Webb, one of the estate trustees. Grass was specially imported from South Africa. When the swimming pool was finished, terraces were built on either side for bathers and "kibitzers", the club announced.

Early in 1952 a tractor was bought, which "paid for itself over and over again," the minutes say. How, is anyone's guess! The caretakers, Mr. and Mrs. Fuller, began working in May 19 52 and Mr. Fuller supervised the building of the bowling green and two tennis courts. Entertainment, such as braais, a beer garden, cinema, variety evenings, fetes, and even hobo dances, became a mainstay.

The first two tennis courts were ready by the year's end and early in 1953, the Club began Sunday lunches which became a popular family outing.

The bowls section was started in October 1952 by Hymie Zinn, who became its president. Two months later a Maccabi tournament was held with teams competing from Johannesburg and Salisbury. The hosts won the day, but as yet had no colours to carry to victory. The club was so popular that plans were made for three more greens and two more tennis courts, but as always, money was a problem. The Governor of Southern Rhodesia, Sir John Kennedy and Lady Kennedy, paid an informal visit in May 1953. Weizmann Chili was officially opened in 1953 by the 1.inister Plenipotentiary for Israel to the Union of South Africa, Mr. Hyman. Many people visited over the following years including Dr. Cohen, President of the British Board of Deputies and Dr. Pearlzweig of the World Jewish Congress. By 1953 there were more than 500 members.

Later that year, Ole Rhodesia Maccabi bowls team trials were staged at Weizmann with three of its members among the team of five selected. They distinguished themselves at the Maccabi Games and won the rinks and pairs competitions. That year too, Rev Yesorsky and Cantor Golub conducted the Yahrzeit of the late Dr Weizmann in a moving open air ceremony. The uniformed youth movements planted trees for the occasion.

The club entertained Australian women bowlers and a visiting Balfour soccer team in 1954. The swimming pool remained popular with the children but early in 1955, a polio epidemic kept them away. After requests by the Medical Officer of Health, it was decided to close the pool until the all-clear was given. When the scare was over a first-class swimmer was hired to keep watch and give lessons.

Weizmann always assisted the youth movements and in 1955 Habonim held its first camp there. By now club membership was more than 600. Members achieved sporting recognition for their skills and in 1958 they won the Forbes League, a premier competition in bowls.

But in the end, loss of membership and financial difficulties forced the two clubs to merge.

On June 1st 1965 Parkview Weizmann Sports Club was started at the Parkview premises under the Parkview constitution which was amended. Willie Fredman became Hon president of the new governing body. The pool was finally closed in 1976 when it became too expensive to repair and was little used. Bowls proved to be as popular as ever and night bowls was introduced and continued right through to the 1980s. Blind bowlers also enjoyed the use of the club facilities and charity days were held every year.

Sadly, today the Parkview Weizmann Sport Club is having some financial difficulties - the buildings are neglected and membership, in comparison to other Bulawayo sports clubs, is down. However, a few young people have recently joined and it is hoped more will follow.

Prior to the formation of the two sports clubs and the Rhodesia Maccabi Association, many sportsmen played under the banner of the Balfour Club.

This was linked to the Guild, which meant that all members could join the sporting activities of Balfour. Phil Baron was chairman of the 1952 Balfour Committee, which proved its high standard of play when it won the Matabeleland I st League Cup tennis competition a year earlier.

A cricket team, the Nomads, played league in Bulawayo and in 1952 players included A Sager, M Thal, K Kaye and many more with Lionel Bernstein being the outstanding performer with both bat and ball. He took eight wickets for 15 against Greenlands -quite a feat.

Balfour also fielded basketball teams which were well placed in the league logs and proved difficult to beat. First team players included Mervyn Lange (captain), Basil Katz, Myer Smiezer and others. The Balfour Club also introduced wrestling in the Guild Hall under the wing of the Matabeleland Wrestling Club.

Just as the Olympics are the ultimate goal for the world's athletes, so Jewish sports people aspire to the Maccabiah. The noble aims of Maccabi inspired Arthur Sarif to form the Rhodesia Maccabi Association (RMA) in 1953. He was its first chairman. To start things rolling, a ball was held at Parkview and many social and sporting events followed.

The first Maccabi Mixed Rinks Tournament began at Weizmann Country Club in May 1955 organised on a league basis with 96 participants.

The RMA constitution was adopted in July 1956 with its general aims to participate in the World Maccabi Games as representatives of Rhodesian Jewry; to co-operate with the SA Maccabi Association; to establish closer sporting links with Israel; to provide advancement for Jewish youth and promote the spirit of the Maccabians; and to foster better understanding between all people within sport and culture. Most importantly it promoted "amongst its members a team spirit, the conception of fair play, good citizenship and self-discipline".

Maccabi was the first multi-racial sports association in Rhodesia and had the first coloured and Indians players in its teams.

At the 1958 AGM, Lionel Bernstein was elected chairman of the new Matabeleland Maccabi Council (MMC). The first Maccabi quiz for the Leon Krell Cup was won by the Matabeleland team, which narrowly defeated the Junior Maccabi team and the visiting OFS team. This became a popular annual event.

A year later Mr. Bernstein became first chairman of the RMC, a post he held for 20 years, and Basil Katz became chairman of the MMC. Special weight lifting and body building courses were started for juniors by Dave Goldberg.

In October/November 1959, a 21-day tour of lsrael for Sportsmen was organised with SA Maccabi, at a cost of £250 which included air fare, lodgings and tours - compare today's prices! The Guild was packed in 1960 for the Maccabi Cavalcade of Sports organised by Maccabi. Judo, fencing, gymnastics, table tennis and weight lifting were demonstrated. A highlight of the evening was the contest for Mr. Maccabi title, the first time it held.

During this period, Mr. Bernstein and his committee were negotiating with Parkview for a floodlit tennis court for night play. Dozens of youngsters took up the sport and a Maccabi League was formed. Long before Maccabi was formed, annual Inter Provincial tournaments, which included golf, cricket, hockey, rugby, bowls, tennis, table tennis and swimming, took place at various grounds in Harare and Bulawayo alternately. Maccabi then organised these events which continued until its demise.

Today touring teams have constant problems with hotel and travel expenses. Not so in 1963 when Bulawayo hosted the third Inter Provincial Sports Festival. The Grand Hotel offered bed and breakfast at 25/- a day for visiting Maccabians. The "Stereos" band was hired for £16.16.0 and the cost of the dance ticket was 10/- a couple, which included tea and cake. Play was held at Parkview, Weizmann and the Bulawayo Golf Chili, Milton Sports Fields and Carmel School.

Maccabi always promoted sport among our children and assisted Carmel School for many years. Mr. Bernstein with Bobby Styles began to prepare the cricket ground at the school. They hoped it would be the future headquarters for Matabeleland Maccabi Cricket. Maccabi spent £78 removing. The well in the middle of the ground to expand the size of the playing fields. Maccabi was represented on the Carmel School PTA and in July I 964, donated two trophies for the girls and boys Inter-House Relay Races.

In 1964, when the Rhodesian Zionist Council became Cazo, Maccabi, already affiliated with World Maccabi, agreed to affiliate to Cazo.

The cricket section was the most active section of Maccabi at the time, and in 1964, the Matabeleland Maccabi Cricket Team won the Baines PTA and RAFA Festivals. Ivor Altshuler and David Vides were instrumental in the organisation of these events.

At this time too, Matabeleland Maccabi was still involved in developing the Cannel playing fields. The local prison provided convict labour at no charge. The only danger was flooding from the nearby stream after heavy rainfall. The opening of the Cannel cricket pitch took place in February 1965 and Mr. Bernstein reported that the turf wicket was of a high standard.

The success of our local Maccabi was recognised by an accolade in a 1956 Israeli publication from the Maccabi World Union.

'The Rhodesian Maccabi Association ... a comparatively small territorial organisation, is most active and well known in the different fields of sport and does its utmost in fostering the spirit of sport and education among Jewish youth. Only a short time ago the Bulawayo club provided sports facilities for the Carmel Jewish School."

The Weizmann Committee 1950s. (Dr M J Lewis, Betty Wolffe, Irvin Schmulian, Maurice Wolffe, George Tihany, Ben Ellis, Nick Amato. Nellie Banet, Zena Jacobsen, Rosemary Sarif, Peggy Eliasov, Gertie Sarif, Daphne Ralstein, Joyce Amato, Marcia Rubenstein. Alex Ralstein, Harry Mathieson, Arthur Sarif, Charles Kluk, Jack Rubenstein, Monty Rabins, Eli Eliasov.

Through the years, competitors were selected from various sporting fields to take part in the annual Maccabi Games in Israel. Our bowlers, in particular, reaped a good haul of medals but others also triumphed. After the Six Day War, Rhodesian Maccabi responded to the Israeli Emergency Appeal by donating £1,000, a tremendous effort on their part.

In 1968 the Maccabi cricket team in Bulawayo applied for affiliation to the Matabeleland Cricket Council and in 1968/69 played its first season in the A reserve League. This was mainly due to the efforts of lvor Altshuler, who became president of the RMA from 1968-1973. He managed the 1969 team that went to Israel and was praised for his work. Ivor later went on aliyah and formed the first Israeli cricket team. He retained his involvement in Maccabi and in sport.

A coloured player, Mr. Hendricks created a stir by playing for Maccabi in 1970. A letter was received from the Matabeleland Cricket Council acknowledging the fact and stating that while it was permissible, the rules of any individual club had to be obeyed when playing in the League.

Another milestone was created in 1972 when a group of youngsters became the first Maccabi Junior team to enter the official Junior Soccer League (known as the European League). That season they made a clean sweep by winning the League, the Five-a-Side tourney and the knock-out cup. A keenly contested League cup final was held at Rovers in 1972, where Maccabi beat OM's.

Not only was the battle fought on the field but many will remember the fight which took place among the spectators, begun by youths and finished by adults. "Ho Ho Maccabi" could be heard from the stands when the likes of Leonard Helfer scored a goal. The Maccabi side were League champions for three years. The team enjoyed an SA tour coached by Adrian Suskin and managed by Mervyn Trappler. Later a visiting Maccabi Youth team was entertained from the Eastern Province.

Maccabi organised many sports tours and played host to diverse teams including an Israeli soccer team which played Matabeleland at Queens and an Israeli tennis team which played Rhodesia at city hall. The Rhodesian team included Baron. An Israeli bowls club team came Bulawayo while on a visit to SA and included Israeli national players. A South African Maccabi tennis team came on a visit which included players of national class like Abe Segal.

A South African Maccabi Men's Hockey team, including several current and former Springboks toured Rhodesia in 1971.

Eventually all good things come to an and in 1977 when Cazo HQ moved to Harare, Maccabi decided to follow suit. Zack Menashe of Harare took over as chairman of the RMA but Matabeleland remained actively involved.

Problems arose in 1977 when Israel would not allow the Rhodesians to take part in Maccabiah under the Rhodesian flag. Although the participants had been chosen and all the travel arrangements were made, a disappointed team cancel at the last minute as they were only allowed to take part as a "South African Team".

Disillusionment and lack of purpose caused by this set-back resulted in Maccabi folding, and although a cricket team continued to play under the name o Maccabi, it was no longer associated with any Jewish sporting body. It is hoped that with the current promising diplomatic ties between Israel and Zimbabwe, the Association may be revived and be able to send a team to the next Maccabiah.