Rambam book-club students meeting with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Rambam book-club students meeting with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Rambam book-club students meeting with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Connecting with Kulanu. On Rosh Chodesh MarCheshvan, the month was made a little bit sweeter when two local institutions committed to education and Torah values connected for a meeting of the heart. Rambam Mesivta was honored to visit Kulanu and usher in the new month with a special Shacharis minyan and breakfast program.

Members of Rambam’s tenth grade Gemara iyun shiur, under the guidance of their rebbe, assistant principal Rabbi Avi Haar, davened, danced, sang, and interacted with the Kulanu students. Aryeh Kahn davened Shacharis, Cameron Broder led an inspiring Hallel, Elly Marcus rounded out the morning with a meaningful Musaf, and Moshe Abdurachmanov shared a dvar Torah. Food, fun, and dancing ensued!

This event marks a continuing relationship between Rambam and Kulanu. Past events have included melaveh malkahs, chaggigot, and the continued and weekly participation of Kulanu students in Rambam’s unique club hour every Wednesday. This way, Kulanu students can experience Rambam clubs ranging from sports and karate to safrus and EMT training.

It is the hope of both institutions that the bonds formed on this past Rosh Chodesh will be strengthened in the months to come and that the kesher keeps growing.

Book Club Meets Author and NBA Legend. Elie Wiesel. Malcolm Gladwell. Dan Senor. Mike Piazza. Nelson DeMille. Michael Lewis. There are just some of the writers the Rambam “Meet the Author” Book Club has met over the last few years. Now, NBA legend and bestselling author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar joins their ranks.

Kareem holds the NBA record for most points scored during the course of his career. He was a 19-time All-Star, a 6-time League MVP, and an innovator. Where would the game be without his “skyhook”? His off-the-court life is as fascinating as his NBA career and that’s what brought him to the attention of the Rambam Meet The Author Book Club.

Kareem is a man of many talents. He tried his hand at acting, delivering a memorable turn as a pilot in the film Airplane! Additionally, thanks in large part to his contributions during the Civil Rights Era, he was named a U.S. Cultural Ambassador by Hillary Clinton. Kareem has written a number of books on the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement, as well as Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion. His most recent work, Sasquatch in the Paint, is destined to become a best-seller.

Budd Mishkin, host of NY1’s “One on 1 with Budd Mishkin,” conducted the evening’s interview. Mr. Mishkin brought the focus to all the aspects of Kareem’s life, with a special emphasis on the notion of “when the cheering ends” and the “second act” of an athlete’s life. He allowed the audience to understand that all 7-foot-2 of Kareem is not just geared toward sports, but to politics, community outreach, family, culture, and art.

The Meet The Author Book Club trip featured a pre-lecture pit-stop at Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as a pizza shop, providing plenty of time for the boys to bond. After the boys shook Kareem’s hand and got copies of the book autographed, the night concluded with Ma’ariv and the recognition that there is always more to a person’s potential than one might think.

Rav Ovadia Yosef, zt’l, Commemorated. Upon hearing of the passing of Rav Ovadia Yosef, the talmidim of Rambam Mesivta were assembled to learn more about this Torah giant and leader, and the impact he had on Klal Yisrael. The loss that is being felt will be felt by the entire tzibbur for generations to come. “The mere fact that 800,000 people attended the levayah in Israel on short notice–which would be the equivalent of over 50 million people traveling to Washington for a funeral in America–is an indication of the role he played as a Manhig Yisrael, a towering Jewish leader,” said Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman, Rambam’s rosh hamesivta.

Rabbi Friedman spoke about Rav Yosef’s unchallenged role as an authority in psak halachah and his ability to unite all of Sephardic Jewry under the banner of Torah.

Rabbi Daniel Bennun, who leads the daily Sephardic minyan at Rambam, spoke about some personal anecdotes and recollections he had of Rav Yosef, zt’l. “His photographic memory was unparalleled,” said Rabbi Bennun, “as was his commitment to help all of those in need.”

Rabbi Bennun explained how Rav Yosef tackled many of the most difficult community problems, such as agunot, wives whose husbands never returned from battle during the Yom Kippur War; Shemittah for farmers in Eretz Yisrael; the status of Ethiopian Jewry; and many other issues which required encyclopedic knowledge of Torah and “broad shoulders” in halachah.

All understood that Rav Ovadia Yosef’s petirah truly was a loss for world Jewry. v


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