A couple of weeks ago the local yeshiva junior varsity world experienced the annual excitement that is the Rabbi Jacob and Deborah Rubenstein, z”l, Emunah of America Junior Varsity Basketball Memorial Tournament. Played over a week-long period, from December 4 to December 10, 2017, at high school venues across the New York/New Jersey metro area, culminating in “Championship Sunday” at SAR High School and Academy on Sunday, December 10, this exciting and classic JV basketball tournament has become a fixture of the holiday season.
The 2017 edition of Rubenstein/Emunah, was once again led by Avi Borenstein as tournament director and Ronnie Faber, Emunah professional. Borenstein is the head JV and varsity basketball coach at JEC and the director of basketball operations for the JEC high school and middle school. Ronnie is a dedicated Emunah professional, whose family is dedicated to the work of Emunah in Israel, and the Faber men and women have a long and storied history as players on various yeshiva league basketball teams.
The proceeds of the tournament are allocated exclusively to Emunah of America’s Bet Elazraki Children’s Home, which was very close to the hearts of Rabbi Rubenstein and Mrs. Rubenstein, may they rest in peace. The Emunah Bet Elazraki Children`s Home was founded in 1969 to help children facing serious crises. At that time, 40 children were fortunate enough to find a haven at Bet Elazraki. Today Bet Elazraki is home to 250 children from all over Israel. These children live at Bet Elazraki because their parents are unable to care for them due to violence in the family, drug addiction, alcohol, abuse, mental illness, abandonment or a combination of all the above. The mission is to ensure that these children become healthy young adults, develop self-esteem, realize their full potential, contribute to society and raise their children in a normal family setting—in a loving home of their own.
The 2017 Emunah/Rubenstein featured with nine yeshiva league teams from both the east and west divisions and a new participant, the Philadelphia Yeshiva Mustangs.
After a week of exciting JV basketball, the final game for the championship trophy came down to 2 east division rivals, the Magen David Yeshiva of Brooklyn, and the HAFTR Hawks of Lawrence. In earlier yeshiva league play, on Saturday night, November 11, 2017, HAFTR just edged the Warriors in a nail biter, by a 46-44 margin. Everyone involved in JV basketball knew that the championship game was going to be a reprise of that battle. MDY took an early and, what appeared to be, commanding first-quarter lead, 16-4. The tenacious Hawks fought back and by the half, HAFTR led 34-32.
The second half was controlled by the Hawks on the strength of seven three pointers (a Rubenstein/Emunah Championship—game three point record) by guard Avi Rokocz, and the leadership and scoring of eventual tournament MVP Matthew Jedwab, HAFTR garnered the championship trophy with a 66-54 win.
HAFTR is 7-0 in yeshiva league play as of this writing with a bright future looming. MDY is 2-1 in yeshiva league play and its future is equally bright. Look for these two teams, along with DRS, to be major players in the yeshiva league playoffs come February and March 2018.