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Maccabi-AJAX Lawn Bowls celebrates big anniversary – The Australian Jewish News

It was a wonderful day of bowling, dining and reminiscing on April 3 at Caulfield Park Sports Club as more than 115 people celebrated a milestone anniversary for Maccabi-AJAX Lawn Bowls Inc (MALBI)

Technically it’s 53, but as current president Gary Lasky said, the big event was a belated 50th birthday party for the Jewish bowls club, due to the pandemic.

“It’s taken four attempts over three years to get here, but we made it, and I’d like to thank the committee members for all their efforts,” Lasky said.

Karen Rubenstein bowling at the Maccabi-AJAX Lawn Bowls 50th anniversary event at Caulfield Park Sports Club on April 3. Photo: Peter Haskin

According to a special 12-page anniversary booklet provided to all attendees, the club was established as AJAX Lawn Bowls Association in 1969 by Jewish members of other bowls clubs, with Abe Goulburn as its first president and Alen Eilenberg as secretary.

From just 12 members, it reached 100 in the mid-80s under Allan Rubenstein’s presidency, and more than 300 at its peak in the early 2000s, although membership has slipped in the past decade.

MALBI’s annual program was as high as 14 bowls events, including the George and Gita Smorgon Trophy, the Victorian Open Jewish Championships and an inter-shule tournament.

The latest chapter of the inter-shule tournament was held at the April 3 celebrations, featuring 80 bowlers from 10 synagogues, in mixed fours format.

The prize – the Allan Rubenstein Perpetual Trophy – was won by a combined Toorak Hebrew Congregation/Chabad Port Melbourne team, with the St Kilda Synagogue team being runners-up.

Another treasured part of MALBI was its annual weekend away to the Marylyn Guesthouse in Marysville from 1988 to 2001, where indoor bowls, a revue style show, fundraising raffles and auctions proved popular.

To date, MALBI has donated more than $68,000 to many not-for-profit organisations. It’s members with Australian rep honours are Ben Sternfeld, Geoff Sussman, Joel Solomon, and Joe Aarons, it’s most decorated female player is Denese Brick, and in 2001, David Sebbag and Alan Faigan won the Legacy Pairs Open Bowls title against 140 competing clubs.

Special guests at MALBI’s 50th anniversary included its patron Gita Smorgon, MPs Josh Burns and David Southwick, Maccabi Victoria president Brian Swersky, and Phil Filler from Maccabi NSW Lawn Bowls Guild.

Also attending in person were seven of the club’s Life Members – including its longest serving committee members Marilyn Faiman and Lothar Prager – while Life Member Ben Finkelstein, who resides in Queensland, wrote a wonderful message which was read out at the event.

Maccabi-AJAX Lawn Bowls life members, dignitaries, and special guests at the event.

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