By Judah Rhine
The Yeshivah Alumni Basketball Association (YABA) annual dinner took place on Thursday, May 14, at Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck, New Jersey.
The dinner was attended by over 200 people. The crowd that gathered was a mixed bag of alumni from long ago, old-time players, coaches, managers, and cheerleaders from the Metropolitan Jewish High School League as well as current players, coaches, and managers from the Metropolitan Yeshivah High School Athletic League. The attendees also included family and friends of the 12 honorees who were inducted into the YABA Ring of Honor.
Upon arrival and registration, the attendees were welcomed into the grand ballroom, where a lavish dinner awaited. The event was catered by Five Star Caterers and featured a sumptuous and elegant buffet, including ribs, lamb, schwarma, burgers, hot dogs, sliced meats, poppers, and an array of numerous exotic salads and much more to choose from. The first part of the program afforded all of the attendees an opportunity to mingle, reminisce about the past, and catch up on current times while enjoying the delicious treats. As Neil Stein, BTA 1973, stated, “This dinner is an opportunity to relive past glories and a chance to rekindle old friendships and competitions.” Following Minchah, it was time for the program to begin and all the honorees took their seats on the dais.
The dinner was chaired by Elliot Auerbacher and Yeshiva Basketball legend Irv Bader. Irv emceed the program, which included some creative and comedic opening remarks. He then introduced the honorees, each of whom addressed the audience with brief words of gratitude as well as reflections and stories of the “good old days.” The honorees were each presented with a framed picture from their playing days. Following the program, there was Ma’ariv and then a grand Viennese table dessert buffet to end the evening. It was a magical and memorable experience for all.
Proceeds from the dinner will be used to complete the YABA Mitchell Merlis a’h Basketball Court at Yeshivat Kfar Zeitim in Israel.
This year’s honorees span the decades from the inception of the Metropolitan Jewish High School League, which morphed into the Metropolitan Yeshivah High School League and is now the Metropolitan Yeshivah High School Athletic League.
Marvin Teicher, a’h, MTA class of 1952, captain and leading scorer and rebounder of the 1952 MTA championship that set a record with 23 wins. His leadership, constant drive, and motivation were great factors in the team’s success. Marvin’s son accepted the award.
Dr. Allen Helfer, BTA class of 1953, leading scorer of his JV and varsity teams. Legendary coach Red Sarachek called Al “one of the best little men in the city.” Al played on the first Yeshivah High School team ever to play at Madison Square Garden.
Aaron Grandison, YHSQ class of 1973, one of the most popular players and also one of the best players to play in the league. His career continued to D1 Columbia and then professional basketball in Israel.
Andy Weitzen, RJJ class of 1974, was an unstoppable scorer and ferocious rebounder who averaged double digits and points in 11th and 12th grades. As a senior, Andy was named MVP of the 1974 All-Star game. He coaches Ramaz Middle School and has been a mainstay of the staff at MVP Basketball Camp the last six years.
Dr. Jerry Stahl, Rogosin class of 1975, played Varsity for three years at Rogosin. He broke the rebound record with 321 and led Rogosin to the 1975 league championship.
Barry Berg, MTA class of 1976, who started off at RJJ and then transferred to MTA, became the league’s dominant offensive player, often drawing double- and triple-teaming. As a senior, he led MTA to a 15—1 record.
Susan Rifkin, JEC class of 1981, was a four-year starter at Bruriah and led them to four championship appearances, winning three times. She is the first female player in Yeshiva Basketball history to have scored 1,000 points. She now coaches Bruriah varsity.
Zach Mishaan, Flatbush class of 1983, was a four-year starter at Flatbush. As a freshman, “Zaky” led his JV team (coached by yours truly) to an undefeated season and league championship. He also went on to win varsity league championships in 10th and 11th grades. His greatest assets as a player were his killer instinct, leadership, and desire to be the best.
Dr. David Ruchelsman, Frisch class of 1994, was a three-year member of the Frisch varsity team and led them to back-to-back championships. He was named MVP of the 1996 finals. He also made the Boston University basketball team as a walk-on in 1999—2000.
Stephanie Amos, Central class of 1998, was a four-year varsity player and starter at Central. She went on to play at Stern College, leading the team in scoring over her three-year career.
Max Feldstein, Ramaz class of 2010, led his team to a combined league record of (including playoffs) 60 wins and 3 losses in four years. He won one JV championship and two varsity championships, two MDY championships, and one Sarachek championship.
Richard Hagler, League Commissioner starting in 1979. At that time, there were just men’s and women’s basketball and six or seven teams. By the time he left in 2006, and through his hard work, the league expanded dramatically to include hockey, bowling, softball, soccer, and volleyball. Richie is now the executive director of HALB.
The acceptance remarks by the honorees were all memorable, but there were two that stood out.
Zaky Mishaan, in addition to praising his coach (that’s me) for his mentoring and coaching (as well as thanking his coach’s wife for hand-knitting each of the players’ game kippahs), related that his father, a’h, would always make sure to attend Zaky’s games–no matter the place or time, even if it meant leaving work or other commitments. His son always came first. Zaky took that trait and has done the same with each of his three sons–all of them stars of the Yeshiva League–always in the stands, serving as their biggest cheerleader and supporter.
The other was a story told by Andy Weitzen. Several years ago, he was participating in a 3-on-3 tournament in Manhattan with a few friends. During a break in the action, he noticed a young woman shooting hoops on the far-end basket and doing quite well. He went over to her and, during the course of their conversation, she told him she had played for a small school–Stern College. It turned out that she is the daughter of Mitch Merlis, a’h. Upon hearing this, Andy described how he was so overcome with emotion and expressed to her what a wonderful person her father was.
Young Israel Playoff Update
Red Shul Defeats YI of Manhattan. In an intermediate semifinal contest, the Red Shul defeated the YI of Manhattan, 59—26. The first half started off even for both teams and the score was tied at 19. However, it was a tale of two halves. Red Shul outscored YI Manhattan by a score of 40—7 in the second half. Ikey Cohen was high scorer, with 24 points. Red Shul was 8—12 from the three-point range.
Harborview over Heichal Hatorah. In an intermediate semifinal matchup, Harborview defeated Heichal Hatorah (from Teaneck) by a score of 63—34. Harborview was led by Eli David and Moshe Fried. There was also key scoring from guards Nussie Felder and Yoni Bobker. The team’s defense was led by blocks left and right by Ari Miller, and by Avi Hoch stealing the ball countless times. The Red Shul will now face off against Harborview for the intermediate championship.
Or Chaim Defeats Shaare Torah. In the last senior semifinal, Or Chaim overwhelmed Shaare Torah by a score of 60—23. OC came out with a tenacious pressing defense and solid offense. After the first quarter, OC led by 13 points, which stretched the lead to 23 points at halftime. Led by the solid rebounding of Sauer and Taubenfeld and scoring of Jacoby, Sendrovic, and Pullman, OC pulled away to win by a final score of 60—23. This was truly a team victory with every player on the team contributing. MAY will play Or Chaim in the senior championship game.
A Personal Note
The week before Shavuos marked a significant milestone in our family. Our son Kevin graduated from Yeshiva University. This is truly a special achievement and proud moment for our parents, Jessie and Lester Rhine, a’h. Each of their sons and grandsons has graduated from Yeshiva University.
Attention All Camps
Keep everyone informed of sports going on in your camp–intercamps, special sports events, and tournaments. Send information to email@example.com to ensure inclusion in the 5TJT Sports Center column. v
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 coâ€‘commissioner of the National Council of Young Israel basketball league. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.