Lawn Bowls / Ra'anana Club Marks 30 Years

Kalley Saacks, 82, honored for contributions to growth of sport.

Ra'anana's mayor Nahum Hofree, last Thursday acknowledged the major contribution made by South Africans in his city, their sporting background and culture having brought an added quality of life to the town. The mayor was present with 200 bowlers crowded into the hall to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the club.

A combined function saw 82-year-old Kalley Saacks being applauded for his outstanding contribution to the club's welfare. The evening started off with club President Itzik Kashi welcoming the mayor and the guests. Club member Harris Green brought to mind that because of the bowling green, Ra'anana had become a focal point for South Africans coming on aliyah. Maximo Wagensberg, Israel's national president, extended a greeting on behalf of Israel's bowling community.

 lawn bowls - Gordon Silberstein - 09092011
Gordon Silberstein

The club officially opened on July 28, 1981 in the presence of then-mayor Benyamin Wolfowitz, who was persuaded by local lawn bowls pioneer Abe Bick that the club would be a key factor in the development of Ra'anana. In appreciation the green was named "The Ben and Sarah Wolfowitz Green."

The club started off with 150 members, and with ever increasing membership a second green was opened in 1984. The year 1992 saw the inauguration of a new luxurious clubhouse in the presence of Mayor Zeev Bielski, the central space being named the Abe Bick Hall.

Within a short time Ra'anana became the leading club in Israel, both in numbers and playing records. The progress of the club was never in doubt being blessed with outstanding leaders following Bick, each together with enthusiastic members contributing to the interest of the club as well as to the welfare of bowls in Israel.

Kalley Saacks, who endeared himself to each and every member of the club, was recognized for his generosity to charitable institutions, sporting institutions in particular. Aptly, Ra'anana's second green was named "The Kalley and Fay Saacks Green." His care was widespread - for players not among the champions he organized Thursday games, outside players as well enjoying his hospitality.

Teddy Edelstein, proposing a toast to Kalley, referred to his all-round contribution to sports. He had been president of the Israel Lawn Bowls Association as well as a national selector and national team manager, and for his services had been made an Honorary Life Member of the association. He had also been awarded a trophy by the municipality for his contribution to the game.

Edelstein also recorded Kalley's outstanding contribution to the game of rugby in Israel. Here too he had been association president, manager and coach. On the field he followed his high-ranked performances in first-league rugby teams in South Africa with a smooth transition to bowls, often making the final round in national competitions, claiming a triple and fours crown.

Kalley's sporting achievements were followed by his sons Jonathan and Lawrence, both of whom featured prominently in Israel's national rugby side. Jonathan - speaking on behalf of the family, including 11 grandsons - referred to the warm family atmosphere among the Saacks "tribe," which Kalley and Fay always emphasized.