(Courtesy of YABA) The 2019 YABA (Yeshiva High School Alumni Basketball Association) dinner took place on Thursday, May 23, at Ahavath Torah in Englewood, and was attended by close to 200 people. The crowd was a mix of alumni and old time players, former and current coaches and managers from the Metropolitan Jewish High School League. The attendees also included family and friends of the honorees that were inducted into the YABA Hall of Fame.
Upon arrival, the attendees were welcomed into the grand ballroom where a lavish buffet dinner awaited. The event was catered by Main Event /Celebrations and featured a sumptuous and elegant assortment of delicious foods. The “pre-game” time gave everyone an opportunity to greet each other, share memories, reminisce about past experiences and catch up over the years both on and off the court. All of the attendees had an opportunity to mingle and relive significant moments of unforgettable plays and calls that took place in gyms around the league.
Promptly at 7:30 p.m. it was time for the “first quarter” to begin and all the honorees took their seats on the dais. Pete Kessel, one of the co-chairmen, gave words of welcome to all the guests. A beautiful video was shown of the Mitch Merlis Basketball Court in Israel which was built with the help of funds raised by YABA.
The “second quarter” featured the 2019 YABA Hall of Fame induction ceremony led by master of ceremonies and recently inducted YU Hall of Famer Irv Bader. Bader opened with a creative and comedic listing of several Knicks draft picks from the past that just “did not work out.” He then presented the annual Joel Rishty Memorial Trophy to the Heschel High School varsity champions of 2019.
Bader introduced the honorees, each of whom addressed the audience with some brief words of gratitude as well as reflections and stories of the “good old days.” Bader summed up by saying that “this dinner is an opportunity to relive past glories and a chance to rekindle old friendships and competitions.”
Following the introductions, the crowd was treated to an elegant Viennese table dessert followed by Maariv. Special thanks to the dinner committee including Bader, Pete Kessel, Jeff Krantz and Andy Weitzen.
The 2019 YABA Hall of Fame inductees:
Elana Sapadin Pomeranz, Frisch 2004
Sapadin grew up playing basketball at a very young age, receiving consistent instruction on the art of shooting the basketball from her father Alan Sapadin. During her high school years Sapadin attended the Frisch HS and was uniformly recognized as the best all-around player in the league. In her junior year her team won the league championship against Ramaz in an exciting game. She is proudly married to Eitan and together they are raising three beautiful daughters Miri, Zissie and Avigyle.
Benjamin Goldberg Ramaz, 2001
Goldberg got into basketball because of his father Saul, who is also a member of the YABA Hall of Fame. At Ramaz, Goldberg was captain of both the JV and varsity and was one of the all-time leading scorers in Ramaz history.
Stephen Ashear, Hillel 1993
Ashear was a starter at Hillel all four years of high school and became captain in his junior year. In his senior year, his team’s record was 21-1 and they went on to win the Red Sarachek National Tournament as well as the yeshiva league championship that took place at Madison Square Garden. During his HS career he averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Glenn Cohen, Ramaz 1982
Cohen captained the Ramaz varsity during his junior and senior years. He was an all star both years while leading the team in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals. In 1981, he led Ramaz to one of its finest seasons, winning the league championship and the YU Tournament in Madison Square Garden. During his year in Israel, he discovered a new passion and devoted 30 years of service to the IDF.
Harvey Sheff, HILI 1977
Sheff began his HILI career in 1974-1975 leading the junior varsity team to the championship game. He was voted the MVP of the Metropolitan Jewish High School Basketball League and played alongside Danny Schayes in the first annual Jewish HS all star game. Harvey played four years for Yeshiva University and currently ranks #4 on the all-time scoring list.
45th Anniversary Yeshiva League Champions JEC 1974
Coach Cordell Rap Reinhardt; Gary Aboff and Lenny Pianko, co-captains; Team members: Jack Halpern, Sam Gen, Phil Schiffman, Terry Weiner, Yale West, David Heyden, Mark Salamon, Benny Salamon, Richie Kelin, Howard Coopersmith. Noam Lichtman, Jesse Weberman, Sam Berkowitz, co-managers
40th Anniversary Yeshiva League Champions JEC 1979
In 1979, the JEC Chargers capped a very successful season by winning the MYHSL championship with a thrilling 34-32 victory over the MTA Lions. The members of the team were: Wayne Wolff, Hillel Abraham, Neil Tilson, Danny Dodelson, Mitchell Kasten, Mike Strulowitz, Howie Blank, Arthur Schwartzbard, Harley Schnall, Philip Baratz, Larry Blendon, Marty Penn, Yoel Tobin and Joseph Kamelgard. They were coached by Ira Budow. The manager was Bruce Prince.
Robert Rosenbloom, MTA 1974
As a sophomore Rosenbloom played on the MTA JV team and won the championship. He moved on to varsity and became a starter in his junior year. He was also named a starter in the yeshiva HS basketball all star game in his senior year. He continued his basketball career at Yeshiva University, starting all four years.
Mark Hoenig, MTA 1974
In ninth grade, Hoenig led his JV team to a championship. He joined and started on the varsity as a sophomore and anchored the MTA varsity in each of his last three high school years. Hoenig was named to the all-league teams in each of his junior and senior years.
In addition to being a great social event, the YABA organization prides itself on raising funds for tzedaka. Proceeds from the 2019 dinner will be donated to the following worthy causes:
• Masbia—Boro Park Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry that feeds hundreds of needy people in Brooklyn and Queens, every day. Every year they serve over two million meals. YABA has responded to their appeal for funds to serve the needy on Shavuot.
• Am Yisrael Foundation (Tel Aviv)—Foundation run by and for young Jews from all over the world promoting connections and for many, aliyah, to Tel Aviv and all of Israel. “We cannot take for granted that the future of our people will have strong Jewish or Zionist identities. The main goal of our work in Tel Aviv is to inspire every young Jew on the planet to connect to a shared vision of Jewish destiny, giving them the tools to continue building our home in the Land of Israel.” Donation will be geared toward their “Adopt a Safta” (AdoptASafta.com) organization which pairs young volunteers with lonely and needy Holocaust survivors hoping to make their twilight years as comfortable as possible.
• Alei Siach/ With All Our Heart— www.aleisiach.org/en —First group home for religious children and adults with special needs. The home provides all-encompassing programs for individuals with special needs of many ages. A few short weeks ago, Alei Siach formed its first basketball team which won its first game. Our donation is earmarked for the continued success and expansion of their basketball and therapeutic sports initiative.