May 26, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 26, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Shomrei Torah’s Charity Table Tennis Tournament Is a Win-Win

It was a win-win for Shomrei Torah of Fair Lawn in its second annual charity table tennis event. The place was hopping as the friendly camaraderie put everyone in a good mood, and the over $1,500 raised, easily exceeding last year’s total, was a welcome boost for a dozen charities. The event also served to reopen the nature vs. nurture debate, but more on that later.

The more serious players went immediately to open tables, getting in a bit of last-minute practice. Finally it was time to get the tournament rolling. The setup was as follows: 28 participants, six divisions, three referees and three tables. Among the returning players from last year were Rabbi Benjamin Yudin, Associate Rabbi Andrew Markowitz, Rebbetzin Dr. Sara Markowitz, and Dima Yuster, the 2015 champion.

To win a game, 11 points were needed, but unlike last year, when one defeat led to a quick exit, this year it took two losses before a player was eliminated. It looked good on paper, with the algorithms for the first few rounds of divisional matchups seemingly on solid ground. However, Mendy Aron, who coordinated the program under the auspices of the shul’s Torah Tuesday learning group, soon realized that his careful planning would have to be recalibrated, or the anticipated two-hour event would be stretched to four. Under the new rules, after each player had finished three rounds, only those who remained a perfect 3-0 were allowed to continue. There were eight players in all who fit the bill.

The level of play of the finalists was very impressive and spectators, as well as some of those who had lost in earlier rounds, stayed to watch and await the outcome. Although there would be five runner-up winners and one champion, each of whom would receive trophies and the opportunity to win money for their favorite charity, it was the final matchup that drew the biggest crowd. Defending champion Dima Yuster was pitted against Matt Paradisgarten. By strength of a series of slams, Paradisgarten pulled the match out and became the new champion.

As for the nature vs. nurture debate, there were two sets of father-and-son participants who came up big. Jason Beckoff was a trophy winner. In an earlier evening junior match, his son Noah came away with the top prize. Additionally, Michael and David Samet, the former over the age of 70, were also among the finalists. Whether it was their natural athletic abilities or a case of families who used table tennis as a way of bonding over the years remains to be seen.

On a bittersweet note, both champion Paradisgarten and runner-up Yuster changed their choices of charities after the event. A fellow congregational couple has a young child who is battling a serious illness and both wanted to donate their portions to show their solidarity with the family.

By Robert Isler

 Robert Isler is a marketing researcher and writer who lives in Fair Lawn. He can be contacted at [email protected].

 

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles