(Courtesy of Yashar LaChayal) On Sunday, December 15, Yashar LaChayal hosted the second annual 2019 Yashar LaChayal Boys Yeshiva Day School Hoops for Heroes Basketball Tournament at DRS in Woodmere. Eleven boys basketball teams representing 10 yeshiva middle schools throughout the tri-state area participated with over 200 players and coaches playing in the morning and afternoon tournament games.
Participating boys schools included: Manhattan Day School, Westchester Day School, Moriah, HANC, HAFTR, HALB, Magen David Yeshivah, Ramaz, Yeshivah of Flatbush and RTMC (JEC).
This event, created by Judah and Carol Rhine, directors of the Hoops for Heroes campaign, encompasses on the court basketball with off the court education of raising awareness and funds for Yashar LaChayal. The organization, “Straight to the Soldier,” is based in Israel, and gives the soldiers “what they need when they need it.”
Several months ago, Judah and Carol visited each school and met with all the players of each basketball team. They talked to the student athletes about Yashar LaChayal and its mission to provide for the IDF soldiers. Each player was given a personal fundraising page and the students took on the initiative to raise funds for the Hoops for Heroes Tournament project. The funding of this project will put basketball hoops on army bases throughout Israel to allow the soldiers’ recreation and respite during their break time from their official on duty responsibilities.
Every participating player and coach received a special IDF cinch sack with the Yashar LaChayal logo and a bracelet displaying “I support the IDF.”
At the opening of the morning and afternoon tournaments, Judah spoke to the players, praising them for all their efforts. A specific army unit was assigned to each school and each team was given the corresponding flag of that unit as follows:
- WDS – The Caracal Battalion
- HANC – Arayot Hayarden Unit
- Moriah – Magav (Border Patrol) Unit
- YOF – Iron Dome Unit
- Ramaz – Pikud Haoref Unit (search and rescue)
- MDY – Nachal Unit
- HALB – Tzanchanim Unit (paratroopers)
- HAFTR – Golanit Unit
- JEC – Givati Unit
- MDS – Handasah Kravit Unit (combat engineering)
The flags will be brought back to Israel and given out to those army units to show our support for them for their dedication in defending the State of Israel. It was quite a scene to see all the teams gather together on the basketball court at the same time, holding their unit’s flag.
Following this opening ceremony, the games began. The morning and afternoon tournaments had each team playing a preliminary game. Matchups were set up to enable teams to play teams that they would not play during their leagues’ regular season. These games were followed by the opening round games, which were single elimination.
The teams came ready to play and were excited to take to the courts. The players played hard and put in a lot of effort, leaving everything on the court. The enthusiasm and team spirit were quite evident at every game with a lot of spontaneous cheering and clapping that could be heard throughout the gym. Many of the games came down to the last few seconds, with one game even extending into overtime. Excellent sportsmanship prevailed during and after the games by both the players and their coaches.
In the morning tournament, Westchester Day School engineered the tournament’s first upset when they defeated Moriah in the championship match. It was a back and forth contest and in the end Westchester pulled away and won the championship.
In one of the early round games in the afternoon, YOF met Moriah in what would turn out to be a down to the wire game. YOF had the ball down by two. With just a few seconds left, YOF sunk a put-back basket at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime. YOF held on and secured the win and moved on to the semi-finals where they lost to HAFTR in a very tight match-up.
The afternoon semi-final game between MDY and Ramaz was a classic. Both teams battled back and forth with MDY holding a one point lead with under 10 seconds left. Ramaz inbounded the ball and just as the buzzer sounded, Jesse Storch put in the winning basket to send Ramaz to the championship game vs. HAFTR. Ramaz pulled out to an early lead only to see HAFTR close the gap to three points at halftime. The second half, Ramaz proved to be too strong and secured a victory and championship.
During the course of the day there were three minyanim for Mincha and there was also minyan for Maariv before the afternoon semi-final games.
Following the championship games, the trophy ceremonies featured each member of the winning teams receiving a championship medal with the Yashar LaChayal logo. WDS and Ramaz each received a team championship trophy that they will proudly display at their schools.
Each coach selected an All Star player who received a special Hoops for Heroes All Star medal:
- Alex Brand, HANC
- Eden Brach, MDS
- Zachary Raab, HALB
- Noah Brandwein, Moriah B
- Reuven Rozehzadeh, RTMA
- Leo Mizrahi, MDY
- Eitan Sulemanoff, Moriah A
- Ronnie Chaaya, YOF
- Sam Siri, HAFTR
There was a great display of achdut throughout the day, amongst all the players, coaches and fans. The players had an opportunity to socialize with old and new friends. This special tournament gives these students the opportunity to play competitive basketball on the court, and to serve as ambassadors, off the court, to promote the work of Yashar LaChayal and all it provides for the IDF. Special thanks to all the tournament basketball court sponsors for their generous donations and for showing their support and gratitude for the chayalim. Hakarat hatov and many thanks to all the schools, players, coaches, athletic directors, principals, parents, administrators, families and friends who helped make this event a huge success to benefit Yashar LaChayal. Plans are already in the works for Yashar LaChayal 2020!
Donation and sponsorship opportunities are available on the Tournament website, yasharlachayalbasketball/unique/bball. For more information please email [email protected]