According to George Nosal who grew up in Gombin, team sports were important in Gombin the in the inter-war period. Soccer and gymnastics teams were connected to political youth movements.
The sporting teams of Maccabi and Morgenstern (Bund Youth Organization) had been functioning in Gąbin since the early years of Polish independence. In 1935, another Jewish sports organization, Hapoel (“The Worker”, related to Poalei Zion- Right), was established in the town.
In his memoires, Wolf Maintczik reminisces that Maccabi and Morgenstern had soccer and gymnastics teams that competed with each other. Maccabi had a much better soccer team, with players like Bauman, Holcman, Teyfeld, and A. Żychlinski. Its greatest successes came before the outbreak of the Second World War. In addition to local games, Maccabi played soccer matches against Jewish and Polish teams from other towns in the area. In 1923 they beat the Polish team from Płock, 3- to-1; but in the second leg match, goalkeeper Abram Hodys was severely wounded. Maccabi decided not to play again at the Plock stadium to avoid anti-Semitic attacks.
The Bund’s Morgenstern had an excellent gymnastics team trained by, among others, Kroy and Abram Frenkel. Their slogan was “in a healthy body, a healthy spirit”, and they greeted each other with “frish-frei, shtark-trei” (newly free, strongly faithful). Claiming that their local Maccabi rivals were too weak, they invited gymnastic clubs from Płock and Włocławek to compete. Their soccer team, which was ambitious but less successful, included as players Szlomo Bławat, Somel Szczerb, Hersz Natan, Zeidman, Fajwisz Gurker, Chaim Gurker, Zalman Klinger, Moshe Schwarcz, Moshe Tipiel, Israel Stupai and Lazer Kuczinski.
Photos from the collection of Max Guyer
Community organizations played an important role among the youth of Gombin. They were organized by and affiliated with the major political organizations, In addition, they focused on literature, theater and sports and organized libraries. A more complete discussion is available in the Karczewska history and in the Yizkor book.
From left to right: 1) Welwek Friedland, perished in the Holocaust. 2) Moishe Zeidman. 3) Izhak Glickzeliger. Dissapeared in Russia. 4) Yosel Woideslawsky. 5) A guest. 6) Favesh Boll, from the family of cobblers. Perished in the Holocaust. 7) Lea Florkewicz. Survived in the Russian side, became a doctor of medicine and died recently in Israel. 8) Meir Holtzman. 9) Motel Gelbert, perished in the Holocaust. 10) Leon Zaleshinski, from Wolclawek. 11) Efraim Biebergal. 12) Moshe Cermalinski, (brother of the late Sol Simon) perished in the Holocaust. We shall never forget. Photo and notes from Ada Holtzman.
Among the youth organizations, the Hashomer Hatzair scouting group played a very important role in Gąbin. It had been founded in 1922 by young activists connected with Poalei Zion-Left. In Gąbin, their local branch or ken (nest) was established in 1925 and existed until the outbreak of the Second World War. Their first madrichim (group leaders) were students of the Tarbut school, which at that time was about to be closed for lack of funds. Following the model of English and German scouting organizations, the madrichim took children and youngsters to excursions in the surrounding forests and fields, instilling in them the secular values of socialist Zionism. They saw Hashomer Hatzair as a movement that would free the Jewish youth from “the terrible weight of isolation in the diaspora”.
There was also a local branch of the Jewish Scout Association Betar (named after an ancient Judean fortress), a right-wing revisionist Zionist movement that had been founded in 1923 by Vladimir Jabotinsky. The Betar lounge, located on Gen. Składkowski St., functioned throughout the week and was visited by about twenty teenagers aged 14 to 15. The Maccabi sports club run another scout group of about sixteen youngsters aged 14-25. They met twice a week in their lounge on Piłsudski St.