ByÂ Judah Rhine
Legendary basketball coach Bernard “Red” Sarachek, fencing coach Arthur Tauber, and wrestling coach Henry Wittenberg, along with the all-time leading women’s and men’s basketball scorers, are among the inaugural inductees into the Maccabees Hall of Fame, honoring Yeshiva University alumni and other individuals who have distinguished themselves in National Collegiate Athletic Association competition and who best exemplify the university’s highest ideals and mission. The inaugural class induction ceremony is scheduled for May 2017.
“The establishment of the Hall of Fame is a testament to the contributions Yeshiva athletes, coaches, and others have made to the world of sports over more than a century and the reflection of Yeshiva’s long and illustrious athletic history,” said Joe Bednarsh, YU’s athletic director. “We look forward to adding to the inductee list in years to come with individuals who best exemplify the exceptional athletic ability, personal integrity, high standards of character, and ideals and philosophy of Yeshiva University.”
The honorees include the following.
Heidi Nathan Baker led the women’s tennis team to a Skyline Conference championship in 1999. She went undefeated in singles for all four years that she played, 1996—99, and she was named the conference’s no. 1 singles player in 1999. She also coached the women’s tennis team for two years, after graduation.
Irwin Blumenreich played on the basketball team from 1954 to 1957 and served as captain in both the 1955—56 and 1956—57 seasons. He scored 513 points in one season, which stood as the most points scored in a season for decades. Other longstanding marks were for the most field goals in one season (211) and the most points in a single game (44), and he was the first Yeshiva basketball player to be elected to the All-Metropolitan team.
Daniela Epstein played on the Lady Macs YU women’s basketball team from 1999 to 2003. She is the all-time leading scorer, with 1,134 career points, and is the only woman in YU history to score over 1,000 points in her career.
Yossy Gev is the all-time YU men’s basketball points leader, with 1,871 points. He played on the men’s basketball team from 1998 to 2002, serving as captain for three years. He was also the assistant coach from 2002 to 2005. He has earned many awards, including being named a New York Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association Division III All-Star (four times), National Association of Basketball Coaches Division III Atlantic All-District All-Star, and East Coast Athletic Conference Division III Men’s Metro Basketball All-Star.
Marvin Hershkowitz was the first basketball player in YU history to score 1,000 points. In the 1949—1950 season, he led Yeshiva’s scorers, with a total of 269 points. From 1954 to 1956, he served as assistant coach, and from 1956 to 1957 he was assistant athletic director. Six decades later, Hershkowitz is still ranked 23rd in team history in total points scored.
Sheldon Rokach played on the YU men’s basketball team from 1962 to 1966. Accomplishments include the following: third all-time YU rebounder, with 1,020 rebounds; fifth player in YU history to score more than 1,000 points, with a total of 1,223 points; most points in one game (48); and most rebounds in one game (33).
Bernard “Red” Sarachek served as coach of the YU men’s basketball team in 1942—43 and 1945—68. He coached the 1954—55 YU men’s basketball team that broke every individual and team scoring record, including most wins (13), most points, most field goals, and the highest average score per game. He is credited with putting YU basketball “on the map.” He also coached and mentored legendary players and coaches such as Red Holzman of the NY Knicks, Lou Carnesecca of St. John’s and the Nets, and YU’s own Johnny Halpert. During World War II, he coached in the military at Pearl Harbor, where his Schofield Barracks team won an armed-forces title.
Herbert Schlussel was a member of the YU basketball team during 1953—57, and he played alongside Blumenreich and Sodden. He served as captain in the 1956—1957 season. Over his four-year career, Yeshiva basketball posted an impressive 51—29 record.
Abe Sodden ranks 16th all-time in YU basketball scoring history. He played from 1952 to 1956, serving as captain during the 1955—56 season. Sodden broke the record at the time for most points in a season, with 384 points, by averaging the highest individual average per game, with 20.21 points.
Arthur Tauber served as the men’s fencing coach at YU from 1949 to 1985 and athletic director from 1979 to 1985. He spent 37 years at YU, where he was a professor of health and physical education and director of health. He also coached the baseball, soccer, tennis, and cross-country teams. He earned fencing All-American status in 1941 and was inducted into NYU’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001. He received the Bronze Star for his U.S. military service in World War II.
Henry Wittenberg coached wrestling at YU from 1957 to 1967. Wittenberg was a two-time Olympic medalist (winning gold in 1948 in London and silver in 1952 in Helsinki, where he served as captain), and his personal wrestling career consisted of over 400 wins and only four losses. He was a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (inducted 1977), the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the CCNY Hall of Fame.
For more information, please visit yu.edu/HOF.
USA Karate Team Selected For World Maccabiah Games
The 2017 World Maccabiah Games USA karate team selection took place Sunday, November 20, at the HAFTR HS gym. Hosted by Dr. Alex Sternberg, co-chair of the 2017 karate effort, along with co-chair Ms. Caren Lesser of Florida, the event brought together participants from New York (including many local champions from our Five Town community), Florida, Chicago, Seattle, and Indiana, all hoping to represent the U.S. Jewish communities in the quadrennial World Maccabiah Games in Israel in July 2017.
Karate, a hotly contested sport, has been part of the games since its debut in 1977 at the 10th Maccabiah Games. The U.S. has been fielding teams ever since, with many medal winners coming from our own community. As in years past, athletes were members of the local karate schools and community yeshivas.
Although the event had a local flavor being held in HAFTR HS, referees came from California, Florida, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic to officiate and guarantee that the highest international level in the sport of karate would be maintained. Gathering to help select the team were former World Karate champions and current medal winners, as well as the chief referee of the US Olympic karate organization.
With karate finally included in the 2020 Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo, the sport has taken on added importance. The upcoming Maccabiah Games are guaranteed to have more karate athletes for a final international event before the Olympics in 2020.
The history of the Maccabiah movement mirrors the history of anti-Semitism and discrimination faced by Jews in 1930s Europe. Although the concept of the Games was the brainchild of Russian-born Israeli Yosef Yekitieli, who was inspired by the 1912 Olympic Games, the Jewish movement gained added urgency with the rise of anti-Jewish laws enacted by hostile governments that excluded Jews from participating in professional organizations, and Jewish athletes from participation in sport events.
To maintain a competitive edge, Jewish athletes organized events of their own. The Maccabiah became an organized Jewish sport event with the first Games held in Tel Aviv in 1932. That initial event saw 390 athletes traveling from 18 countries. Skipping rapidly ahead to the 2013 19th Games, the number of participants rose to 9,000 athletes from over 50 countries. All indications are that the 20th Games in 2017 will have even greater participation. The U.S. team alone is expected to reach over 1,200 athletes, coaches, doctors, and managers.
The Games are organized by the Maccabi World Union and are sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee and World Federation of Sports. The Maccabiah Games, ranking among the five largest sports gatherings in the world (in number of participants), are considered regional games by the International Olympic Committee. In the United States, the Maccabiah team has grown to the largest multisport delegation, second only to the U.S. Olympic team.
Far more than only a sporting event, the Maccabiah Games are designed to encourage Jewish youngsters to discover their ethnic heritage and to familiarize themselves with the State of Israel. For each participant, the Maccabiah Games are “two weeks to experience and a lifetime to remember.” For many athletes, the Maccabiah is the first significant connection to the State of Israel and Judaism itself. For the young Open Division athlete, generally 16 to 23 years old and immersed in the machinations of high-level competition, connection with Jewish contemporaries from the far reaches of the world in the land of Jewish roots inspires an awakening of heritage.
Despite the inspirational atmosphere of fellowship and community, the sports events in Israel are vigorously contested in accordance with elite international rules of competition.
Alex Sternberg began to organize the inclusion of karate into the Games over 40 years ago. As the coach of the USA National Karate Team and later as a referee and chief referee of the USA Olympic karate effort, he participated in each national championship, held every year in some part of the U.S. This naturally gave him the opportunity to meet and see the elite Jewish karate athletes who participated at the highest levels of this sport.
Over the years traveling with the teams to Israel, Sternberg personally saw the impact of being in Israel at the Games on the Jewish identity of many young athletes who came from a diverse background often devoid of Jewish identification. Sternberg saw the importance of being involved in this endeavor, which is far more than just bringing athletes to a competition. Just as better-known programs such as “Birthright,” the Maccabiah movement is unique for bringing many Jewish athletes to Israel and to a closer identification with Judaism. It is a worthy tzedakah deserving of support in the Orthodox community and should not be dismissed as “just taking athletes to compete.”
The recent team trial held at HAFTR boasted perhaps the greatest number of Orthodox youngsters vying to get a berth on the team. Unique to this team will be the presence of Dr. Dennis Feierman, a local physician who made the team along with his son Menachem. While Dr. Feierman will compete in the master’s division, Menachem will be a member of the junior team. This may be the first time in Maccabiah history that a father and son were on the same sport team at the same time.
The team will now have seven months to train and get ready for what promises to be a spirited, high-level competition against the best Jewish karate athletes in the world.
The team trials were sponsored by Maidenbaum and Sternberg, LLP.
The recommended Maccabi USA Karate Team for junior girls is Emalie Belokon, Eliana Zieserl, Arielle Bledsoe, Rachel Ginsberg, and Rina Poran. Junior boys recommendations are Coby Madenberg, Jason Upcroft, Menachem Feierman, Evan Fink, Matthew Odinsky, and Dylan Saltzman. Women’s open recommendations are Danielle Azoulay, Aliza Abramson, Rebecca Obstfeld, and Meira Shapiro. Men’s open recommendations are James Stahl, Yakubmier Boruhkov, Amit Ziv, and Yonatan Schultz. Master’s recommendations are Warren Levi, Daniel Sobelman, Dennis Feierman, and Jack Pressman.
Game Night X, December 11
Game Night @ YINW (Giants vs. Cowboys) is gearing up for its 10th annual event. After nine years of unbelievable growth and memories, Game Night X is poised to be an emotional night. “What people don’t know,” Jordan Hiller, Game Night’s founder and organizer, said, “is that we didn’t add a charity element until our second go-round.” The original plan was to just have people come together to watch football and hear an inspirational message at halftime. The sports memorabilia raffle for a cause was thrown in as an afterthought to add some substance. Then it became the essence.”
And what began as a five-item raffle raising $1,200 for Kulanu in 2008 has grown into a 30-item behemoth of incredible prizes. Over the past nine events, Game Night has raised over $85,000 for charities including Tomchei Shabbos, Gift of Life, the JCC food pantry, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, and many more. The halftime speakers have also been varied and eclectic. While there have been noted personalities such as Charlie Harary and Ben Brafman addressing the crowd, most years the speakers are people from the community who have been assisted by the charities. “When someone personally affected by a disease or condition speaks from the heart to the crowd about their experience, you don’t forget it,” Yossi Tabak, father of last year’s speaker, said. “I never miss a Game Night.”
“Every year, we select a different charity,” Jordan explained. “There are so many worthy causes, but most of the time there is one cause that seems to stand out based on something going on in the community. Unfortunately, there is always something.”
This year, the speaker is Samuel Holmes, a Jewish former U.S. Marine sergeant who recently served in Somalia and Iraq, and the charity is the Bob Woodruff Foundation. Bob Woodruff, an ABC News anchor, was badly injured by a roadside bomb while covering the war in Iraq. He started the foundation because he saw firsthand the incredible sacrifices American soldiers make to ensure our freedoms. BWF’s stated mission is to “find, fund, and shape innovative programs that help injured veterans, service members, and their families thrive.”
“I’m really proud of our beneficiary choice this year,” Jordan said. “It’s been many, many years since our charity was not related to children’s health. But this is such an important cause, and I think a somewhat overlooked one in our community. I’ve worked on many events and fundraisers for Israel and the IDF, but I never had the opportunity to give back to the veterans of my own country, until now. I’m hoping our community responds very strongly, comes out, and buys a lot of raffle tickets.”
Game Night is a free, family-friendly event and raises funds only through sponsorships and optional participation in the sports memorabilia raffle. The event features a free tailgate BBQ, catering by the NY Brat Factory, drinks, snacks, and sometimes special guests who drop in (last year, former Jets and Giants player Steve Weatherford came by). The tailgate starts at 8:00 p.m. and the featured game starts at 8:30 p.m. as the New York Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys in what is sure to be a phenomenal matchup. This year’s raffle includes items signed by Odell Beckham Jr., World Series MVP Ben Zobrist, and Mets aces Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, among many other unique pieces. Learn more at www.yinw.org/gamenight.
Shulamith Mustangs Win First Game Of The Season
The Shulamith Mustangs emerged victorious in their first basketball game of the season against Bruriah! They beat their rivals by a close score of 17—15. Coach Temima Miller expressed pride in her team of Middle Division athletes. “All our players played very well. We played as a team; we played hard; we supported one another throughout the entire night,” Coach T. said.
The Mustangs appreciate all those who traveled all the way to New Jersey to cheer them on, and hope to please their fans with another win next week against Barkai.
Yeshiva League Roundup
The Heschel Heat overcame a 4-point halftime deficit (29—25) to take a 7-point lead late into the game, and then had to withstand a vain SAR effort at the end to hold on to a 58—55 win, their 12th straight to start the season, upping their league-leading record to 3—0. The Heat were led by their three-year starting guards, Jeremy Spiera and Michael Gatan, who had 18 and 15 points, respectively. Gatan also did a remarkable job defensively holding SAR’s Dovie Marcus to 9 points before he fouled out. But the Sting’s Wisotsky, after not scoring in the first quarter, could not be stopped and finished with 26.
Frisch took it to Heschel early, and being down only 3 at the half was a good sign, considering Heschel’s lack of intensity and defensive play the first half. Michael Gatan and Jeremy Spiera, three-year starting guards, continue to step up as junior Ilan Orgel has hit a post-MVP slump. But senior Harlan Reiss, after only 2 in the first half, ignited the team in the 3rd quarter, finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Orgel, in a second consecutive quiet performance, had 11, all in the second half.
Senior forward Jonathan Mack had his best game, with 6 big points and 5 rebounds. Sam Fishman was a force all game long for Frisch, finishing with 16 points, and Laifer had 13 points and an excellent floor game. The Heat resume play next Wednesday at home against crosstown rival Ramaz and then go to New Jersey the next night to play Hillel. The final score was 59—50, with Heschel going 11 for 14 from the line in the 4th quarter after taking a 36—32 lead after three and opening a 12-point lead in the fourth.
Jewish Sports League Roundup
Week 6 Scores
Lobos 2, Maidenbaum 1
Rita’s 3, Gourmet Glatt 1
Rita’s 7, Maidenbaum 0
Gourmet Glatt 3, Lobos 2
Lobos 6, Rita’s 2
Maidenbaum 7, Gourmet Glatt 3
Gourmet Glatt 4, Rita’s 3
Maidenbaum 14, Lobos 2
To learn more about the Five Towns Jewish Sports League, visit www.5tjsl.com or follow on Facebook at Facebook.com/Jewish-sports-leagues-LLC.
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.