The Story of the Raanana Bowls Club (from the notes by Ian Cohen)
Things began moving in Raanana with the formation of the Sharon Club headed by Abe Bik. This was a social club, devoted to evening entertainments and tours of Israel. Abe brought up the idea of introducing a bowls section as part of the Sharon Club, and on the 24th of April 1977 he called a meeting of the 24 people who supported the suggestion. These 24 men and women were in fact the original founders of the Club. They were: Abe and Teibe Bik, Harry Esakov, Sonny and Lily Feinberg, Charles Firer, Sam and Tilla Judes, Aaron Myers, Jack and Judith Myers, Jack Olswang, Archie Poliak, Herman and Lena Schlessinger, Syd Trewis, Ben and Thelma Wolfson, Jack Bernstein, Nancy and Max Lipschitz, Tony and Bertha Gaberman and Ivan Kantor.
A steering committee was immediately formed headed by Abe Bik. His deputy was Ivan Kantor and the secretary Tilla Judes. In October 1978 the Raanana Municipal Council authorized the allocation of ground for the building of a green. In November 1978 the first 41 members of Raanana Bowls Club were registered and within three months their numbers had increased to 79. A year later, in November 1979, 150 members had already registered. The list was closed, and four people were placed on the waiting list. Concurrently the Israel Bowls Association authorized the Club's request for acceptance. The clubs in Caesarea and Savyon agreed to have the Raanana members playing on their greens without paying entrance fees.
In order to enable the construction of a green a committee was formed to obtain donations and money. A period lasting about 18 months, from early 1979 to July 1981, was spent in intensive pioneering work. There were difficulties of every kind to be met, and the acquiring of financial resources was a very difficult undertaking. Lotteries had to be organized, bazaar sales were held and lobbying was done in an effort to obtain more and more donations. Many technical difficulties were encountered during the construction process - one day the tractor failed to arrive, on another day the building materials didn't turn up. And then - the money ran out. There was a general state of understandable despair, and certain members suggested abandoning the whole project, but the majority voted to continue with it, hoping for the best.
New efforts were made to obtain donations. Materials and equipment were purchased to prepare the ground. But time was of the essence, for it was necessary to plant the grass before the rains came. And everyone turned up– men and women, the young and the not so young – they all helped to plant the grass, and the job was completed in record time, just before the coming of the first rains. Great was the joy when the grass shoots began to appear. And then, the money ran out again. More efforts had to be made to obtain donations and loans, and construction continued right up to the opening of the first green in July 1981. The secretary, Nancy Lipschitz, in describing those difficult days, wrote that without the volunteers who devoted all their time and energy nothing would have been accomplished.
The 28th of July 1981 was the official date of the opening of the Raanana Bowling Club and the inauguration of its first green. There was a large crowd, including the Mayor of Raanana, delegates from the other clubs and players from abroad who were then participating in the Maccabi Games.
Prior to that, in January 1980, the first constitution was drafted by Sonny Feinberg, Sam Judes, Harry Esakov and Jack Bernstein. This allowed for the registration of the Raanana Club as a non-profit making entity.
And so the green opened and the grass surface looked beautiful, but the facilities around were very meagre - only one water tap and a few miserable wooden benches scrounged from an abandoned plant nearby. A bar for drinks did not exist of course, and so Ian Cohen bought some bottles of beer, cooled them in his fridge at home, and brought them over to the club in a carry-all. And after the game he offered them for sale on one of the benches, for double their original price. The players, who had spent the whole hot summer morning on the green, were thirsty and bought the lot. And so the club made its first revenue and the pub was inaugurated.
Meanwhile, Louis Herscovitz became the club's first coach for new players, and in recognition of his wonderful work he was made an Honorary Life Member.
In October 1981 the first clubhouse was put up. It was in fact a half-open shed of 4x8 metres built by a donation of a thousand dollars from Ian Cohen. It had a few chairs and tables with a shade against the sun and rain, and this gave the players reason to rejoice and feel proud of their new "clubhouse".
In the summer of 1983 this clubhouse was expanded with the addition of two extra rooms which Lutz Hammerslag, Louis Herscovitz and Charles Firer built voluntarily. Glass doors were added, and on the 14th of August 1984 the installing of the Mezuza on the new door was celebrated.
The second green was planted in the summer of 1984, supervised by Louis Herskovitz, Ian Cohen, Lutz Hammerslag and Charles Firer. In November of the same year this second green was opened for play. It was very heavy, and members were for ever complaining that they did not want to play on the lower green. Eventually the matter was righted.
In July of 1986 the idea began to take root of building a new clubhouse. Apart from the increase in membership, the Raanana Municipality had begun to press for the evacuation of our "temporary" premises. following demands by our cottage neighbours. From 1986 to 1990 a concerted effort was made in planning for the building of a new permanent clubhouse, with all the many financial difficulties to be overcome. But with the help of donations and with the assistance of the Raanana Municipality and its head Mr. Zeev Bielsky, who continued the support given by his predecessor Benjamin Wolfovitz, and with the help of all members, the new clubhouse was eventually completed. The central hall of the club was named "The Abe Bik Hall", in honour of the first person to launch the idea of a bowling club in Raanana. The Raanana Clubhouse has in fact become home to its present members and to all those who will follow.