(Courtesy of Project R.S.P.C.T.) From 12-2 on Sunday March 3, Yeshivat Frisch will host the inaugural event for Project R.S.P.C.T. (Recreational Sports Promoting Cultural Tolerance), a sports based program focused on building cultural bridges between the various constituencies, ethnic group and religions in Bergen County. This inaugural event will feature a mixed team basketball tournament with student athlete participation from the Frisch and Teaneck High School junior varsity teams.
Project R.S.P.C.T. is the brainchild of Jonah Schachter, a sophomore at The Frisch School. Schachter, who has played recreational and AAU basketball since grade school, brought his idea to communal leaders including Rabbi Shalom Baum of Keter Torah, who shared it with Teaneck Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin and Councilman Elie Katz of Teaneck. Councilman Katz jumped into action and introduced Schachter to Dr. Christopher Irving, superintendent of the Teaneck school system, who in turn introduced Schachter to David Murphy, director of athletics at Teaneck High School. With their support, Jonah enlisted the help of Rabbi Eli Ciner, head of school at Yeshivat Frisch, and Rabbi Josh Wald, associate principal of Frisch, who immediately embraced the idea and offered to host the inaugural event and address the participants.
“I have been playing basketball since I was very little—in regional AAU leagues, in the 2017 Maccabi Games on my school teams and often just for fun,” said Schachter. “I have played on teams with and against players from other religions and ethnic groups, and the experience was very eye-opening for me. My idea would be for others teens like me to see the same. I want to use basketball, and sports generally, to create an experience that connects the different ethnic and cultural groups in our town including Jews, Muslims and Christians. Sadly, these groups have often been in conflict with one another in various parts of the world. We are lucky to live in a town and in a country where we can all coexist and I would like to build upon that through sports.” Schachter’s longer term vision is to expand Project R.S.P.C.T. beyond basketball to other sports, and he already has a partner in Murphy, who is equally excited. For more information on Project RSPCT, contact Schachter at [email protected]
“In coming together for something as simple as a basketball game in Paramus, Project R.S.P.C.T. will hopefully prove the possibility of cultural tolerance lacking in many areas of the world,” said Schachter. “If teenagers of different religions, races and ethnic groups can play basketball together, maybe people of different religions, races and ethnic groups can also coexist in parts of the world where that is currently lacking.