Howard Waxer is a longtime B’nai B’rith bowler and International B’nai B’rith Bowling Association board member.
Howard Waxer is a longtime B’nai B’rith bowler and International B’nai B’rith Bowling Association board member.

New International B’nai B’rith Bowling Association President Howard Waxer has plans to make the organization truly international.

The International B’nai B’rith Bowling Association was founded in 1939 to coordinate B’nai B’rith bowling activities throughout the United States and Canada.

During the 1960s and 1970s, there were as many as 20,000 B’nai B’rith bowlers in IBBBA leagues in the two countries. Last season, there were 414 bowlers in IBBBA leagues.

Howard Waxer of Farmington Hills, the IBBBA’s new president, wants to see the number of IBBBA leagues and bowlers grow. How does he plan to do it?

“Time to join the 21st century,” he said.

That wasn’t a criticism. It’s an opportunity.

Waxer has bowling friends throughout the world, many he met while participating as a U.S. team bowler in the Maccabiah Games in Israel in 2001 and 2005 and the Pan American Maccabiah Games in Chile in 2003.

Those friends are in places like Israel, Sweden, Great Britain, Belgium, Mexico, Venezuela and Australia.

He wants to use those connections to recruit bowlers from across the world to join the IBBBA. There’s nothing in the IBBBA’s bylaws that prevents it.

“This is the perfect time and right time to expand the IBBBA because of modern technology,” he said. “There’s immediate communication now, the ability to bowl and report the scores quickly and take photos of score sheets to verify accuracy.

“The IBBBA is great organization. Its dues are reasonable, and bowlers are eligible for awards and to participate in tournaments.”

Waxer said he isn’t naive to think the IBBBA will expand internationally overnight, “but if we can add one, two or three leagues next season, it would be more than awesome, cool and a half.”

A Facebook post this month by Waxer announcing his IBBBA presidency and intention to expand the organization internationally drew encouraging responses from bowlers in Israel, Great Britain, Belgium and Sweden. It was a start.

“We need to do this expansion right, and we will,” Waxer said. “This is a great opportunity for Jewish bowlers to unite and create camaraderie with other Jewish bowlers around the world. We can use all the friendships we can get these days.”

Virtual tournament bowling isn’t a new concept for the IBBBA. Because of COVID-19 and the cost of travel, all of its tournaments are held virtually these days, in conjunction with league bowling nights.

The IBBBA’s sectional tournament has been held nearly every year since the IBBBA was founded. World War II and the COVID-19 pandemic caused cancellations.

Detroit, Las Vegas, Chicago, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Denver and Toronto were some of the sites of the tournament when it rotated locations.

“We didn’t want the sectional tournament to go away forever during the pandemic. It’s been around a long time. That’s why I suggested we hold it virtually,” Waxer said.

The Brotherhood-Eddie Jacobson B’nai B’rith bowling league, based at Country Lanes in Farmington Hills, dominated the IBBBA tournaments this season.

League teams finished 1-2-4-5 in the sectional tournament led by the two-time champion House Ballz, which shared the $1,920 first-prize money. Mix-N-Match, Eagles Bakery and Ruby’s Rollers were the other top-five finishers.

It was the second sectional tournament held virtually. About 48 teams competed each time.

Jay Nitzkin won the IBBBA’s over-average “eliminator” tournament and took home $202. Kenny Weiss was second, Aubrey Topper and Harold Grossbart tied for third and Larry Woodberg, Mitch Cohen and Jerry Wayne took the next three spots in the standings.

Eric Goldberg and Gary Goldin won the Seymour Orlov Memorial Doubles Tournament and shared $200. Goldin and Jeff Berlin were second. Bowlers can be on multiple doubles teams.

There’s also a tournament that raises funds for the Seymour Zate Achievement Award Scholarship, named for a longtime Detroit B’nai B’rith bowler.

“These are cost-effective tournaments for bowlers because all they need to pay is an entry fee,” Waxer said. “They’re already bowling in the league those nights. For the sectional tournament, first place is 50% of the prize fund.”

There are IBBBA awards for high scores and awards for leadership.

Waxer, 74, has been a B’nai B’rith bowler “for at least 30 years, easily” and he’s been on the IBBBA board for about 20 years. He’s also the longtime president of the Metropolitan Detroit B’nai B’rith Bowling Association.

He began a two-year term as IBBBA president earlier this month after spending three years as president-elect. That should have been a two-year term, but a year was added because of the pandemic shutdown.

Waxer won the Orlov doubles tournament with Gary Klinger in the 2002-03 season, and his team won the sectional tournament “at least three times,” including in Dearborn “many years ago” and Denver more recently in 2018.

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