Maccabi World Union


The origins of the Maccabi world sports organisation dates back to the foresight of young European Jews, towards the end of the 19th century. They saw the formation of a national movement as an integral part of the dream of a national home in Palestine. These youths advocated a real change in the lifestyle of Jews, especially concerning the physical condition of Ghetto Jews.

The Maccabi World Union was created at the 12th World Jewish Congress in Karlovy Vary Czechoslovakia in 1921. The secretariat of Jewish sport leaders decided to form one umbrella organization for all Jewish sports associations. It aims were to “foster physical education, belief in Jewish heritage and the Jewish nation, and to work actively for the rebuilding our own country and for the preservation of our people.”

With the creation of MWU, Maccabi organizations were established in Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Yugoslavia.

The first headquarters of MWU was in Vienna, later to be relocated to Brunn Czechoslovakia and then in 1929 again moved to Berlin. By 1937, under the threat of Nazi disruption, the headquarters moved to London.

At this time MWU consisted of 40 organisations and the membership was in excess of 175,000.

A branch office of MWU was established in Tel Aviv in 1939.

In 1960, the International Olympic Committee officially recognized the Maccabi World Union as an “Organization of Olympic Standing”

Today the Maccabi World Union is international Jewish sports organization spanning 5 continents and more than 60 countries. There are some 450,000 members who represent the Maccabi brand.

The first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, wrote a few years before his death as follows:

“ Maccabi is without doubt one of the most important offshoots of the Zionist Movement. Its importance is indicated not only in its name … but also in its infusion of life into a most significant factor…. the bolstering of physical state of the Jewish People”

The Maccabi movement has been responsible for bringing pride and a spirit of competition to young Jews and under the umbrella of Maccabi World Movement has played a significant role in building the Jewish community worldwide. 

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