Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How a Chess Club was not Opened in... Heichal Shlomo

Source: Herut, 9/9/1960, p. 8

Moshe Roytman also adds, in his tour of the right-wing newspapers of the time, a note posted on Noah Zevuloni's web site [in Hebrew] -- covering the latter's 50 years in journalism, web site maintained by his son, Eli Zevuloni.

In this case the article is about the possibility of opening a chess club -- or rather, the advertisements published in Ha'Tzophe on 22/8/1960 that the Religious-National party, the Mafdal, which owned Heichal Shlomo, will open a chess club in the place, including a lecture by Landau, a simul by Yaakov Kortzag [ph. spelling], etc. 

Zevuloni reports that, while the decision to open the club was legitimately done in a meeting by Heichal Shlomo's management, the CEO of Heichal Shlomo (absent, presumably, from that particular meeting), who was also the minister of the interior at the time, Chaim Shapira (not to be confused with the Tel Aviv University professor of the same name), decided for political reasons explained in detail in the article to "defer" the opening of the club until "after the [Jewish] holidays" -- i.e., to some indefinite time after Rosh Ha'Sahana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. 

As very often is the case in Israel, 'after the holidays' served as a euphemism for 'never', the equivalent of the English expression 'to the Greek calends'. Another point raised in the article by Zevuloni is that the management of Heichal Shlomo was asked why they intended to call the club after Reshevsky, instead of the late Rabbi Citron from Petach Tikvah, mentioned before in this blog, who was also a member of the Mizrahi (the Mafdal's predecessor) and also a chess master. Zevuloni adds, incredulously, that the reply was that the management never heard of Citron... 

That Reshevsky was a world-famous chess player and Citron a local amateur master was, apparently, irrelevant to those who complained to Heichal Shlomo's management for preferring Reshevsky to Citron in naming the suggested club. This was typical of sports in general in Israel at the time; e.g., sports clubs were divided based on political affiliation, and so on.  

It should be noted that at the time Herut was the newspaper of the Herut party, then the most far-right nationalist party in the country. The Mafdal (and before that the Mizrahi) was the right-wing religious Zionist party, significantly to the right of the ruling secular-left Zionist parties, but not as extreme as Herut

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