By Sam Seifman
Last March, 41 teams from the United States and Canada traveled to a bowling alley in suburban Detroit for the 76th annual B’nai B’rith Bowling Association Sectional Tournament. For three days, 164 B’nai B’rith bowlers descended on 300 Bowl, in Waterford, Mich., to compete for high honors in a sport that dates to ancient Egypt.
Archie’s Army, from Detroit, emerged as the winning team. Steve Lotzloff, Ryan Columbus, Jeff Berlin and Eric Goldberg made up the “army.” But the event featured many other impressive players and scores, including a perfect 300 rolled by David Shanbaum and a 299 by Noah Cohen, both also from Detroit.
Howard Waxer, the tournament co-chair and president of the Detroit B’nai B’rith Bowling Association, pronounced it “the best tournament Detroit’s ever held.”
And while the scores certainly count, the number of attendees—the largest in six years—also impressed. Bowlers came from Hamilton, Ontario; Pittsburgh; Rochester, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, Mo.; Chicago, New Orleans and Denver.
“It’s cool when you see all these people come from all over,” said Gary Klinger, athletic director of the Great Lakes Region.
Klinger has B’nai B’rith bowling in his blood; his father was not only a bowler himself but the tournament director and league secretary for the bowling association.
The B’nai B’rith Bowling Association, host of the tournament, formed in 1939, became an umbrella organization for leagues across the country. Its first tournament, in 1941, was also in Detroit. Over the years, the association kept growing. At its peak, in the 1960s and 1970s, it had 20,000 bowlers. League dues from across the country have raised thousands of dollars for B’nai B’rith programs, events and even for the organization’s original Washington, D.C., headquarters. Today, the association has 25 leagues in the United States and Canada.
“It all started with a group of guys, bowling in mostly Midwest cities,” said Mark Sperling, executive secretary of the B’nai B’rith Bowling Association since 1979. “They came together for fellowship.”
That fellowship continues, as members come out not only to bowl but also to participate in the annual banquet, where they hear about the state of their association and B’nai B’rith in general.
During the recent banquet, Steve Zorn, co-chair of B’nai B’rith’s Participation Committee, spoke to attendees about better integrating B’nai B’rith bowling with the rest of the organization. Zorn was a league member for 10 years.
“It was a very good experience,” Zorn said. “I bowled on a team with my son and three sons-in-law.”
The location of the next tournament has yet to be decided, but the smart money is on Las Vegas, where it has been held about every four years. If you’d like to find out more about joining a league, please email Howard Waxer at firstname.lastname@example.org.