Maccabi Berlin football team made history last weekend when, for the first time since the first part of the last century, it returned to the forefront of German football, having reached the first round of the German Cup for the first time after winning the Berlin Cup. The achievement gave a team that plays in Germany's fifth division and consists of amateur players, a chance to meet the huge empires Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund as early as August in the first round.
The Jewish team attracted no less than 3000,1 fans to the final, who saw an impressive 3:1 victory over Lichtenberg after Maccabi came back from 0:<> down. It is important to note that in the past it was a team in which everyone was Jewish, but of course things have changed and for example, the third goal was scored by a son of Turkish immigrants.
The management, of course, is still composed of Jews from the local community, as are most of the young and adult players. The beautiful story, of course, is that this is an amateur team that has returned to an active framework for the past 50 years in order to preserve their identity, and here they are making history and can come to play, for example, against Hertha at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.
"A healthy mind, a healthy body"
Maccabi Berlin is the successor to Bar Kochba Berlin, a club established following Max Nordau's "Muscular Judaism" speech in 1898. It was established simultaneously in 14 cities across Germany, and its slogan was taken from a speech by the Zionist activist Nordau: "A healthy soul, in a healthy body."
Despite the focus on football, it began, as always then, in Jewish clubs, as a gymnastics club. The fact that no less than 40,<> athletes signed up to take part in it made him enter other sports and excel in them as well. Bar Kochba's success has, of course, spawned other clubs, including Hakoach.
Mit 3:1 setzt sich TuS Makkabi Berlin in der Verlängerung im Berliner Pokalfinale gegen Sparta Lichtenberg durch.
Damit steht es fest: Zum ersten Mal in der Geschichte spielt ein jüdischer Fußballverein im DFB-Pokal. Mazal Tov und Yallah #Makkabi! pic.twitter.com/2nn4l89BMM
— Misha Joel (@Misha_Joel) June 3, 2023
In 1929, Bar Kochba and Hakoah merged and even came to games in Israel against the teams of the Young Jewish Yishuv. However, in 1933 the Nazis decided that Jews could no longer participate in the local arena but only in internal games within the community. Another round of the team in Israel, just before Kristallnacht, finally showed the situation of the Jews and Jewish sports, and even the Israeli teams managed to rival them. After Kristallnacht, the group, like its sporting sisters, shut down in what then seemed permanent. The group turned to the defense of Berlin's Jewish Quarter, and the sport became a distant memory.
Emanuel Sheffer signed the aliyah
In 1970, the team was re-established under the name Maccabi Berlin. With a blue and white uniform and a Star of David on the shirt. 80 years after the club was founded, it came back to life. This time the guys focused on football and even hired no less than Emanuel Schäfer, the legendary coach who signed off on our only qualification to the World Cup. Of course, teams were opened in various sports such as basketball and chess, with over 500 active athletes.
Wie schon Lukas Podolski sagte "Fußball ist einfach: Rein das Ding – und ab nach Hause."
Ich gratuliere TUS Makkabi Berlin zum Sieg im Berliner Landespokalfinale 🏆. Dies ist der erste Sieg einer jüdischen Mannschaft im Pokal überhaupt. Gut gemacht, Jungs! pic.twitter.com/4USBxZBrxc
— Ambassador Ron Prosor (@Ron_Prosor) June 3, 2023
Does the group still suffer from anti-Semitism? Of course, it's German football after all. Last November, the club's youth team suffered an incident that briefly shocked local football. After beating Hertha 7 4-06 and celebrating with an Israeli flag, players from the opposing team began shouting at them: "Let them send them to the gas, and if they don't take down their flag, the flag will also go to the crematorium."
The match referee noted in his report that two players from the opposing team accused him of being "bought by the Jews". The attacking player was immediately sent off with a red card even though the incidents took place after the game, but then a second player joined in and gave a Nazi salute to the Maccabi Berlin players.
Emanuel Schaffer. Came to help, photo: Alan Shaver
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Both attacking players were banned for two years from active play, the club itself was punished with a three-point deduction and a fine of €1500. It now remains to be seen who the senior team will receive in the lottery, and what reception the team will receive on the main stage of German football later this summer.
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