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Swish for Sderot Yeshiva Day School Boys Basketball Tournament Was a Win-Win for All

The Swish for Sderot Yeshiva Day School Basketball Tournament Mega Grand Finale 2016 took place on Sunday, December 4, at SAR Academy in Riverdale. The event was the culmination of a month-long program to raise awareness and funds for the community and Hesder Yeshiva of Sderot, as well as having 16 yeshiva day schools play in an exciting boys basketball tournament.

Games were played at school gyms, from Long Beach to New City, Brooklyn to Edison, NJ, Great Neck, NY to Deal, NJ, Kew Garden Hills to Mamaroneck and Riverdale; over 200 players participated in this event. Twenty-four games were played throughout the five weeks of the tournament, and there was great basketball played, as well as successful fundraising achieved, by all the schools.

Participating schools included ASHAR, New City, NY; HAFTR, Lawrence, NY; HALB, Long Beach, NY; HANC, Uniondale, NY; Hillel Yeshiva, Deal, NJ; JEC, Elizabeth, NJ; Magen David Yeshivah, Brooklyn, NY; Manhattan Day School, NYC, NY; North Shore Hebrew Academy, Great Neck, NY; RPRY, Edison, NJ; SAR Academy, Riverdale, NY; Westchester Day School, Mamaroneck, NY; YCQ, Flushing, NY; Yeshivah of Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY; Yeshiva Derech Hatorah, Brooklyn, NY, and Yeshiva Har Torah, Queens, NY.

During the weeks of the tournament, students, parents and the administrations of each of the participating schools had the opportunity to learn about Sderot, a city located in Southern Israel one mile from the Gaza border. Materials and a video were provided to the schools to help educate everyone. Each of the participating schools was presented with a Sderot mezuzah cover made out of fragments of the Iron Dome as a gift for their participation in the Swish for Sderot Basketball Tournament.

Judah Rhine, Director of AFS, visited several schools and spoke to the students about Sderot. In addition, during halftime of all the tournament games, Rhine gave an overview of the goals of the tournament—to combine raising awareness and funds for Sderot and playing in a basketball tournament. He went on to explain, “Sderot is under constant threat of attacks 24/7. Sderot’s brave determination in the face of continuous terror reveals to the world a model of outstanding courage. Despite this enormous challenge, Sderot is thriving with a state of the art train station connecting it to the rest of the country, as well as malls, restaurants and real estate which is booming. Under the courageous leadership of its founder and Rosh Yeshiva Duv Fendel, the Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot is the largest Hesder Yeshiva in Israel with over 500 students. With its rocket proof dormitories, dining hall and beautiful beit midrash, the yeshiva provides a secure environment for its yeshiva population. The yeshiva has a huge impact on the community of Sderot and provides chizuk and various programs for all the residents and neighbors. New construction and exciting different building initiatives are underway to grow and expand the city of Sderot.”

On the Sunday of the grand finale, the hallways of SAR leading to the gyms were decorated with beautiful posters from Sderot depicting scenes from the Hesder Yeshiva, the campus, Beit Midrash, the city and the chayalim who were stationed there during the recent war in Gaza. A video played throughout the day on the screen in the lobby which gave a flavor of life in Sderot. This set the stage to create an atmosphere of achdut between our communities and the community of Sderot.

On that final Sunday, the tournament’s goals were again emphasized, and a table top Sderot menorah made from Kassam Rockets (valued at $1800) was raffled off at halftime of the championship game. This menorah is a replica of the menorah that stands on the rooftop of the Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot. On Chanukah the flames of the lights of the menorah on top of the yeshiva shine brightly from this tall vantage point and can be seen for miles. The Warshaw family from Queens was the lucky winner. In addition, a large Sderot mezuzah cover made from the fragments of the Iron Dome (valued at $360) was also raffled off and the winner was the Hirsh family from Woodmere.

The grand finale provided an opportunity for all the participating teams to join forces to support this extremely important cause. Each player received his very own Swish for Sderot Klipped Kippah which he wore proudly throughout the day.

The matchups for the grand finale were based primarily on the results of the first two rounds that the teams played in the tournament. Special attention was also given to allow teams to play games against other teams that they would not normally play during their regular season.

Throughout the day, hundreds of fans came to cheer on their sons, grandsons, nephews, brothers, friends and students, while offering support for the American Friends of Sderot and its mission.

Game one of the grand finale featured the Yeshiva Derech HaTorah Hornets vs. YCQ Wildcats. This was a back and forth battle for most of the game with YDH seizing control in the middle of the fourth quarter. In the end, YDH held on for a thrilling 49-47 victory.

Game two of the grand finale featured the Magen David Yeshiva Warriors vs. the ASHAR Sharks. MDY took control of the game from the outset and cruised to a 69-48 victory.

Game three of the grand finale featured the HALB Lions vs. the RPRY Raiders. This game had many lead changes throughout, but ultimately HALB prevailed by the final score of 48-40.

Game four of the grand finale featured the Yeshiva HarTorah Hornets vs. the Westchester Wildcats. The game was tight throughout the first half and at halftime the score was tied at 24-24. YHT pulled away in the second half and held on for a 51-42 victory.

Game five of the grand finale featured the battle of two undefeated teams, the HAFTR Hawks vs. the JEC Thunder. JEC raced out to an early lead and had an 11 point advantage at halftime. In the second half, HAFTR stormed back, took the lead and prevailed with a 49-39 victory.

Game six of the grand finale featured Manhattan Day School taking on the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County.The MDS Mavericks broke out to an early lead. The HANC Hurricanes tried to make a run, but MDS secured the victory, 65-46.

Prior to game seven, Judah Rhine took the opportunity to express hakarat hatov and deep appreciation to all the participating schools, including their administrators, principals, athletic directors, players, students, parents, relatives and friends. He welcomed them as new American Friends of Sderot and thanked them all for their cooperation and support and for their continued chizuk for this worthy cause.

Game seven, the championship game, featured the undefeated North Shore Hebrew Academy Lions vs. the host school, the also undefeated SAR Sting. This was a classic battle between two top teams in their respective leagues vying for the Swish for Sderot Championship. This much anticipated matchup was a seesaw game that produced many lead changes. North Shore took a 15-13 lead after one quarter, while SAR battled back and secured a 25-21 lead at halftime. In the third quarter North Shore got back their game and held a 38-30 advantage after three. SAR made a furious comeback and, cheered on by their fans, defeated North Shore by the score of 48-43 and claimed the championship in the First (Annual) Yeshiva Day School Swish for Sderot Boys Basketball Tournament.

Each participating team selected an all star player for the tournament.

Yeshiva Derech Hatorah: Menachem Shtaynberger

YCQ: Ravid Levy

ASHAR: Zevi Samet

MDY: Elliot Dweck

HALB: Jojo Vilensky

RPRY: Yehuda Reinitz

Westchester Day School: Nadiv Siegel

Yeshiva Har Torah: Jacob Ellman

HAFTR: Jamie Berger

JEC: Elazar Milstein

Manhattan Day School: Shalom Hazan

HANC: Baruch Kutner

SAR: Ely Neuwirth

North Shore: Steven Levian

SAR received a championship team trophy and each member of the winning team received a trophy as well. North Shore Hebrew Academy received a second place team trophy.

The MVP trophy was awarded to Henry Mann of the SAR championship team.

In summing up this mega event, Rhine said, “This was far more than just a great basketball tournament. It also raised awareness and much needed funds for the community and Hesder Yeshiva of Sderot. Plans are already underway for next season’s Second Annual Swish for Sderot Yeshiva Day School Eighth Grade Boys Basketball Tournament which promises to be even bigger and better.”

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