ELITZUR , sports organization of the religious workers movement, *Ha-Po'el ha-Mizrachi. It was founded in 1938 at the initiative of R. Meir *Bar-Ilan. Its early years in Ereẓ Israel were devoted to mixed military and sports activities in the framework of the Haganah and Palmaḥ and also in helping "illegal" immigrants come safely ashore. Intensive sports activities only developed after World War ii. Its object was to encourage sport among religious youth in a framework which would not interfere with observance, with all activities taking place on weekdays. Elitzur's membership reached 25,000 in 130 branches throughout Israel by the 1990s. Its teams played in the national leagues for basketball, volleyball, table tennis, tennis, judo, swimming, chess, athletics, badminton, squash, and handball but not for soccer where games are played on Saturdays. Outstanding has been the encouragement of sport among Ethiopian immigrant children and youth, producing several Israel champions in light athletics and winners of the Israel marathon.
Starting in 1983, the Elitzuria games were held every 4–5 years with the participation of religious Jewish youth from the Diaspora and Israel, attracting as many as 2,000 athletes from 20 countries, including Eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R. World Elitzur has branches in North and South America, Europe, South Africa, and Australia.
M. Michelson (ed.), Ḥoveret Eliẓur (1968).