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Monday, July 26, 2021
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Chevra Lacrosse (CL18), founded in 2012, was the first formal lacrosse program to introduce the sport to the local Jewish community. Since then, Chevra has allowed hundreds of kids to learn and enjoy a game that was previously inaccessible to them.

Chevra’s founder, Marc Goldfarb, played lacrosse as a child growing up in Long Island. “I grew up with Irish and Italian kids and we all played lacrosse,” Goldfarb said. “My friends went on to college and continued playing, some on scholarships. My interests turned more towards my career at that point in my life, but lacrosse has always held a special place in my heart.”

When Goldfarb moved to Passaic years later, he saw how the game he had loved growing up was not present in his new community. Wanting to give back to the community that had welcomed him with open arms, Goldfarb decided to start a lacrosse clinic for kids. At first, the weekly, Sunday clinic, held in a park in Passaic, only covered the fundamentals of the game, such as catching, throwing, scooping and cradling, but as time went on and interest grew, the clinic morphed into a full-fledged intramural league.

As with any organized activity, CL18 taught the kids important lessons about teamwork, leadership, how to deal with failure etc. According to Goldfarb, the main purpose of CL18 is “to get sticks into kids’ hands so they can learn and grow and develop the skills of lacrosse and, most importantly, have fun.”

Just like the clinic grew and developed into a full fledged league, the players also grew and honed their talents further. The entirety of their development in the sport, however, was owed to CL18. No boy who participated in Chevra had prior experience with lacrosse before joining the league.

Despite the grassroots nature of the league, many of the boys have developed into great lacrosse players. One example of CL18 churning out skilled lacrosse players is Akiva Klein. Klein is currently playing for the Israel U13 lacrosse team and is competing against players around the country. Despite only being 11 years old and in the fifth grade, Klein has proved equal to his peers. Akiva’s father, Avraham, noted that “Chevra is where Akiva got his start in lacrosse. He would have never started lacrosse without Chevra and that’s really thanks to Marc’s efforts in trying to bring lacrosse to the Orthodox community at large.”

Avraham also credited CL18 with instilling other important life skills, not just lacrosse techniques, in his son. “There’s a lot to be learned from lacrosse,” he noted, “or really any kind of organized sport, in terms of teamwork, hard work, dedication, learning to play together as a group etc. I think those skills you can take with you forever, which is why we’ve continued to encourage Akiva to play beyond Chevra, play at the rec level, at the club level and now here at the World Series.”

A similar story to Akiva’s is that of Maor Glickman. Just like Akiva, Maor’s first introduction to lacrosse was through CL18, starting in the second grade. There he mastered the basics and laid the groundwork for what would become his passion. According to Maor’s father, Dov, “Chevra was Maor’s first-ever exposure to lacrosse. We were certainly aware of the sport, but no one we knew had ever played or participated. Chevra was a great place to learn the basics of the game in an atmosphere that emphasized sportsmanship and was very supportive.”

Now in the sixth grade, Maor has utilized the experience and knowledge he gained while in CL18 and is currently playing in an elite travel league. According to Dov, “ Having the opportunity to meet world class players like Max Adler (faceoff for Team Israel and in PLL) and Rob Pannell has definitely motivated him to work hard and also to try to pay it forward to younger, newer players learning the game. [There] is something special about lacrosse as the big stars are much more accessible than they are in basketball, football or baseball.”

When COVID-19 hit and life came to a halt, CL18 was put on hold. Like everything else, the fate and future of CL18 were uncertain. “Not knowing if CL18 would continue to grow’’ was the biggest obstacle during the pandemic, according to Goldfarb. However, “we overcame that hurdle and continued the clinics.” Obviously a crushing blow for the boys who were enjoying their newfound interest in lacrosse, CL18 refused to let COVID-19 end their fun. When CL18 finally resumed full operations in April, “Everybody [was] excited to get back on the field,” said Avraham.

According to many, this year’s season was more special than the previous years. The resumption of normalcy after COVID-19 was welcomed and the beginning of a new season was the cherry on top for many of the kids.

“Losing a year or more of things we love to do is hard,” Dov said, “but think about how it is for a kid and what percentage of their life that represents. Obviously, the competition of lacrosse is one part of it, but there’s a social aspect, too. Being away from teammates and not getting the feeling of working together to achieve a goal was certainly something that was missing. Maor’s been really excited to get back on the field and be with friends again.”

Creating a sports league of any kind is easier said than done. Many people are needed to ensure all operations run smoothly and the league thrives. In addition to Goldfarb, there are those like Coach Elan Daisudov who are responsible for building the CL18 program to the level it is today. Goldfarb credited Coach Elan as the driving force behind lacrosse’s popularity in the CL18 community. Without Coach Elan, CL18 might not have produced lacrosse players of such high caliber, such as Akiva and Maor. Additionally, Daisudov has played an integral role in mentoring and inspiring the boys of the Frisch lacrosse club.

Despite many trials and tribulations, CL18 has proven itself to be an important addition to the Orthodox Jewish community. Teaching kids the fundamentals of the sport and critical life lessons, CL18 will continue to grow and pave the way for the next generation of great Jewish lacrosse players.

For further information and to register for the fall 2021/spring 2022 season, go to www.CL18lax.com

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