The 2018 Yeshiva High School Alumni Basketball Association (YABA) annual dinner took place on Thursday, May 3 at The Mansion in Lawrence.
This dinner was attended by over 150 people. The crowd that gathered was a mix of alumni and old time players, old and current coaches, and managers from the Metropolitan Jewish High School League. The attendees also included family and friends of the honorees who were inducted into the YABA Ring of Honor, and the 1972 doctors who were inducted into the Doctor’s Wing of the YABA Hall of Fame.
The dinner “pregame” gave everyone an opportunity to greet each other, share memories, to reminisce about past experiences, and to catch up over the years both on and off the court.
All of the attendees had an opportunity to mingle and relive significant moments of unforgettable plays and calls that took place in gyms around the league. Upon arrival and registration, the attendees were welcomed into the grand ballroom where a lavish buffet dinner awaited. The event was catered by Main Event/Celebrations and featured a sumptuous and elegant assortment of delicious foods including steak, pulled beef, shawarma, sliders, sliced meats, poppers, as well as an array of numerous exotic salads and much more to choose from.
Promptly at 7:30 p.m. it was time for the “first quarter” to begin and all the honorees took their seats on the dais. Pete Kessel, one of the co-chairmen, gave words of welcome to all the guests that was preceded by an innovative National Anthem and Hatikvah.
The “second quarter” featured the 2018 YABA Hall of Fame induction ceremony led by master of ceremonies Irv Bader. Irv opened with some creative and comedic remarks and then presented the first annual Joel Rishty Memorial Trophy to the Magen David Yeshiva High School varsity champions of 2018. Coach Ikey Dweck and all the players came to the dais to receive the award.
Irv then introduced each honoree, who in turn addressed the audience with brief words of gratitude and stories of the “good old days.” Each honoree was presented with a framed picture from their playing days. “This dinner is an opportunity to relive past glories and is a chance to rekindle old friendships and competitions.”
Bobby Kaplan (RJJ 1966). An all-star point guard for RJJ High School who graduated in 1966, Bobby coached close to 1,000 Yeshiva League high school basketball games for Frisch and Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC) and won seven league championships. He also coached at Adolph Schreiber Hebrew Academy of Rockland (ASHAR) for 14 years and was the author of two award-winning publications. Bobby recalled many a time he would pace his kitchen floor at 3 a.m., questioning whether or not he should have called that time out. Bobby was truly a dedicated and devoted coach.
Maury Rosenbaum (JEC 1968). Maury attended Jewish Educational Center (JEC) in Elizabeth, N.J. and was a varsity starter all four years, scoring more than 1,500 points. He was nicknamed MGM — Machine Gun Maury — and is still called that by a few of his friends. In one game Maury scored 50 points and 25 rebounds, and that was in the days before 3-point field goals! He played college ball at NYU, then a Division I school.
Jack Rosenbaum (JEC 1971). Maury’s brother Jack began his varsity career at JEC as a freshman starter, playing on the same team as his brother. He captained the JEC varsity team in his junior and senior years and helped lead JEC to the Yeshiva League crown with the great 1970–1971 team. After graduating from JEC, Jack continued his basketball career as a point guard on the Fairleigh Dickinson freshman team and played varsity his sophomore year.
Ira Scharaga (BTA 1971). Ira attended Brooklyn Talmudical Academy (BTA) where he made the basketball court his classroom all day, every day. After leading his 1968–1969 JV team in scoring, Ira moved up to the varsity team and was named captain of a powerful BTA team. After graduating from BTA, Ira spend 4 years at YU playing basketball and averaged 19.6 points a game in his freshman year.
Joel Rishty, z’l (championship coach Hillel Yeshiva 1993). Joel began his Yeshiva League coaching career in 1992. His first season ended with a 20–1 record and victories at the Sarachek Tournament and the Yeshiva League championship at Madison Square Garden on back-to-back days. Joel’s impact as a coach went well beyond his team’s records. He was instrumental in turning around the Hillel athletic program. He used the game as an instrument to teach life lessons to his players. To this day, many of his players talk about the lessons he instilled in them in high school and the admiration they continue to have for him.
Michael Berg (Ramaz 2010). An important member of a strong and experienced Ramaz team that won the Yeshiva League championship in 2010, Michael averaged 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists per game for the championship team. He continued his basketball career at YU, leading them to three consecutive playoff appearances. Michael was the consummate all-around unselfish player and respected teammate.
The Doctor’s Wing
Dr. Paul Lerer (HILI 1972). As a freshman in Hebrew Institute of Long Island (HILI), Paul played on the JV team, started for the varsity as a sophomore, and led the team as captain during his senior year when they won the league championship. Paul has practiced gastroenterology for the past 33 years and is a founding member of the Gastro-Surgery Center in New Jersey. “Who would have thought that playing organized basketball, the best game that there is, as an adolescent, would forever impact my life?”
Dr. David Greenblatt (Flatbush 1972). Dave “Firetruck” Greenblatt played for the maroon and gold Flatbush Falcons. He had a successful high school career, secured a starting position, and made the all-star team. After attending SUNY Upstate Medical University, David trained at Memorial Sloan Kettering. He currently is chairman of several health care companies. When David and his family moved to Englewood, he and other former yeshiva players created a team in the JCC. His team was so thrilled after they won the championship, they threw a huge kiddush for his shul.
Dr. David Menche (BTA 1972). David played basketball for BTA. His medical specialty is orthopedics and he is currently CEO and president of Metro SportsMed as well as chairman of the board of MOTION PT Group. David believes his high school experience, relationships with old buddies, and basketball days have all played an integral role in making him what he is today.
Dr. Bruce Wenig (MTA 1972). Bruce attended MTA and played on the JV and varsity basketball teams. At YU he played for the Maccabees for four years. Bruce is currently a section head of the Moffitt Cancer Center Head and Neck-Endocrine Pathology program in Tampa, Fla., and a professor in the department of oncological sciences at the University of South Florida.
Dr. Paul Merlis (BTA 1972). Paul played one year of JV and three years of varsity ball at BTA. At 6’6”, a rarity among yeshiva players, Paul was one of the leaders of his team in scoring and rebounding. He went on to play at YU, where he led NCAA Division III ballplayers in field goal percentage in the 1975–76 season. He then attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania and has been practicing emergency medicine in Atlanta for the last 34 years.
Dr. Jeffrey Krantz (Flatbush 1972). Jeff joined the Flatbush Falcons in his junior year, but it was obvious that his basketball skillset would keep him from achieving the levels of his fellow inductees. Jeff started officiating games and in his senior year at YU he was one of 6 out of 106 people who passed that year’s International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO) exam. That certification began him on what would be a 39 year distinguished officiating career. This he officiated Division III, Division II, and Division I basketball games, including the Ivy League and MAAC conferences. He also refereed 28 years in the Yeshiva Basketball League. Jeff’s most important accomplishment is being a father of three, grandfather of one, and husband to a saint.
Dr. Jerry Levine (MTA 1972). Jerry came to MTA from Monsey and made the JV team as a sophomore. He became a starter on the varsity team in his senior year. Jerry is currently director of pediatric gastroenterology at NYU. Jerry says that playing basketball in high school was one of the highlights of his school career, helping to develop many lifelong friends.
The “third quarter” at the dinner showcased a grand Viennese table dessert buffet to close out the evening. It was truly a magical and memorable experience for all.
The “fourth quarter” enabled all the attendees to take pictures, exchange cards and e-mails, and hug each other goodbye.
The dinner was chaired by Andy Weitzen, Pete Kessel, Jeff Krantz, and the aforementioned yeshiva basketball legend, Irv Bader.
In addition to being a great social event, YABA prides itself on raising funds for tzedakah. Proceeds from the 2018 dinner were donated to: United Hatzalah of Israel, Renewal (Life-Renewal.org), Chabad of Parkland, Florida (UniteParkland.com), and Colel Chabad’s Mass Bar/Bat Mitzvah Initiative.
National Council Of Young Israel Basketball Standings
- YILC defeated Harbor, plays @ Heichal
- Darchei @ Pruzdor, winner plays @ YIW
- Ahavat @ MAY
- Tribe @ Mashadi
Judah Rhine, who has been coaching youth basketball for more than 35 years, is co-director of MVP Boys Basketball Camp and MVP Girls Basketball Camp and co‑commissioner of the National Council of Young Israel basketball league. He can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.