Friday, June 02, 2023

On May 23 the Yeshiva High School Basketball Alumni Organization will hold its second annual dinner at Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, New Jersey. The Yeshiva High School Basketball Alumni have chosen to honor an impressive group of men this year. These nine honorees span more than 60 years of yeshiva basketball greatness, and it will be a thrill for fans to see them all assembled in one room!

The legacy of Mitch Merlis, z”l, lives on. The basketball legend will be honored posthumously because he was nifter five years ago Mitch is fondly remembered by former classmates, teammates and friends as being a warm loving person who was larger than life. Mitch attended Brooklyn Talmudic Academy, Yeshiva University High School for Boys, and played for the BTA Yugars,  Class of 1974.

In addition to honoring the memory of Merlis, the Alumni Organization will be inducting its inaugural Ring of Honor/Hall of Famers:

Dr. Herb Schlussel, MTA Class of 1953

Stuart Poloner, MTA Class of 1967

Rabbi Avi Haar, HILI Class of 1971

Dr. Allen Sapadin, HILI Class of 1979

Abie Dweck, Sephardic Class of 1985

Dov Wiener, Rambam Class of 1997

Benjy Ritholtz, HANC Class of 2010

Special Ring of Honor: Irv Bader, BTA

According to dinner chair and event co-coordinator Elliot Auerbacher, the honorees were all great ball players, but they are modest and felt they were not worthy of such accolades. Auerbacher had to have several conversations and do serious arm bending to get some of the honorees to accept. When it came down to it, “These guys were all the best at what they did when they laced it up.  Having them included gives the Ring of Honor legitimacy.”

Last year more than 175 people attended the gala. The keynote speaker was Alan Dershowitz, the well-known appeals lawyer and commentator. Dinner organizers note that the cost of the event ($118, dinner and annual membership, $100 for a virtual ad, and a special under 25 rate of $75) has been contained to encourage even greater attendance than last year, and early reservations are encouraged.

The evening’s event will provide an opportunity for those in attendance to stroll down memory lane to fun and simpler times and recall some of the antics and hilarity of years past. Unlike many formal dinners, guests are encouraged to provide old photos and stories to share. The planning committee was specific in choosing a date in May, with Pesach and Shavuos behind us and prior to the busy wedding, graduation, camp and vacation season. The money raised goes to Yeshivat Kfar Zeitim in Tiberias, Israel.

If you played in, coached or even watched a Yeshiva High School game, this is an event not to be missed. To reserve your seat visit the alumni organizations site http://www.yabausa.org/

By Steve Gutlove

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