Boys Junior Varsity Basketball · The Shabbat Spirit ~The Essence of Hausdorff Weekend

From Friday morning (11/30) through Saturday night (12/1), spirit imbued everything about the Hausdorff experience.  From sportsmanship to learning to t’filah to camaraderie, this is the core of the Hausdorff Shabbaton and the essence of the man Mr. Hausdorff was and the kind of person he tried to help all around him become.

Friday morning opened with the participants from the four schools gathering in Flatbush’s Khezrie Auditorium for shacharit t’filot, which was followed by breakfast, intended to fuel the body with energy for the second round of tournament games.

The early contest belonged to Flatbush and Cooper, and though the Macs tried to stay close to the Falcons early on, Flatbush’s JV boys were just too strong inside, with Center Teddy Hara scoring all of his game-high 14 points in the first half.  Cooper’s boys played with high energy, and battled the Falcons from start to finish, but with Flatbush’s extensive roster on full display, the Falcons had fresh legs throughout, and the reserves build a wide margin, pulling away for the 67-16 win.  Along with Hara, Flatbush got 9 points on three 3’s from Morris Chaaya as well as 7 points from reserve center Michael Flaster.


Taking a break between games, the boys all gathered in the Ashkenazi Beit Midrash where Rabbi Besser reviewed the schedule for shabbat t’filot.

After that, Yeshivah of Flatbush Principal Rabbi Joseph Beyda led a shiur on the Parasha.  He taught about the real nature of Joseph’s dreams> Asking the boys about the specifics of the dreams as they recall them, boys from Cooper and Katz outlined the basics of the two dreams.  All agreed that they foretold to the brothers that they believed Joseph would one day rule over them, and their parents as well.  Rabbi Beyda offered another explanation.  He posed that the imagery of the dreams did not show that Joseph would rule over them, but rather that he was destined to lead them.  The dream involving the sheaves of grain showed that Joseph would show them the way to physical preservation; the dream involving the sun, moon and stars demonstrated that like the stars of which Hashem spoke of with Avraham, Joseph would show the way to spiritual preservation and the lasting growth of the Jewish people.

After another break for food – this time a second trip down Avenue J, it was time for the second game of the day.  Farber faced off against Katz, and the Floridians jumped out to the early lead.  they looked to extend to 20 points at the half, but a three-ball before the buzzer from one of the Detroit area boys made the score 31-15 at the half, with the Storm ahead of the Fire.  Farber battled, but Katz more than doubled their point total in the second half of play.  At the end, Katz pulled away for the 64-36 win.


With two games now in the book for each team, it was time for the shabbat to take the forefront.  The players headed off to their hosts to prepare for shabbat, set to return shortly to the Yeshivah of Flatbush HS building to welcome the shabbat in true Hausdorff style.

Dressed in their finest, the Hausdorff participants joined together for Kabbalat Shabbat in the old Beit Midrash.  Along with spirited t’filot, the first set of representatives from each team presented divrei torah. Rabbi Besser spoke of what a great opportunity this shabbaton presents, to gather from four widely different parts of the country to share shabbat among old and new friends.  After an amazing dinner, set up and served by the members of the Yeshivah of Flatbush Hausdorff Commission students, everyone moved to the one event held outside the High School building – Oneg Shabbat.  Hosted by Amy and Steven Sasson, the Erev Shabbat get together is considered by many the cornerstone activity of the Hausdorff Weekend.The Sasson’s put out a smorgasbord of delicacies for all of the participants, and the living room was filled to the brim with spirited, singing players, coaches, administrators, classmates and commission members along with many Hausdorff graduates who turn out just to reconnect with that most special of memories from past Hausdorff Tournaments.  As has been the case in recent years, Flatbush Coach Gus Kennedy grabbed center stage in leading a number of z’mirot and Flatbush Coach Michael Gurock shared words of Torah with all in attendance.  Of course, the evening was molded to perfection by the leadership of Rabbi Besser, who made sure all attendees – from all four different communities  – were joined as one, arm-in-arm and full voice, in song imbued with the spirit of Shabbat.

Shabbat morning brought a comfortable cool to Brooklyn, making for a pleasant walk from the host families to Flatbush High School for all the boys.  Back in the Old Beit Midrash, all the players and their chaperoning rabbis joined in shacharit, with players from each team sharing responsibilities as chazan, baalei korei and aliyot l’torah.  After completing the reading of parashat Vayeshev, Rabbi Horowitz (YOF class of ’89) was invited to share words of torah.  He opened by referencing Notre Dame Football, certainly not a topic the boys expected to hear at the core of a Rabbi’s talk.  He spoke of the tradition that exists within Fighting Irish football that when new players in the program receive their uniform number, the are presented with more than just the jersey.  They are given a list of all who wore that number before, highlighting their respective achievements.  This is a beautiful tradition, but what is the connection to the Torah?  Rabbi Horowitz explained, it is all about from where we draw our inspiration as well as what kind of legacy do we leave for those who follow.   he told of Joseph’ trials when tempted by Potiphar’s wife.  Whether he deflected her advances completely or was near caving in to her advances is a question debated by torah scholars.  But, it is thought that when faced with the challenge, it was thoughts of his father, Jacob that served as inspiration.  Joseph saw the parallels between what his father went through (siblings who wanted to kill him, exile in a foreign land, dangers and threats while in exile), and knew if his father could stay true to Hashem in those situations, he could, too.  The Notre Dame Tradition, like Jacobs’ experience was for Joseph, is about taking inspiration from those who came before you as well as knowing that what one does today will serve as a legacy for those who will follow, a legacy that will inspire those who one day will walk in our shoes.

After kiddush that was about as filling as a regular meal, the participants returned to the Beit Midrash for more words of Torah.  Once again, a member from each team delivered a d’var torah that was well thought out and delivered confidently.  The participants were then addressed by Ms. Tami Spielman, daughter of Thomas Hausdorff, z”l who shared memories of her father and how amazed and blessed she is to be able to see her father’s memory continue to have such a great impact on students all these years later.  Finally, Rabbi Besser finished with one final lesson from the parasha.  He spoke of details, and the value of even the smallest thing, as everything is a gift from Hashem.

After Havdalah with their host families, it was back to basketball, and the final games of Round Robin play in the 2018 Hausdorff Tournament.  The raffle prizes were out on display, and the teams slowly tricked in for some Saturday night basketball, Brooklyn style!

Game one saw Farber and Cooper go head to head.  Both teams were 0-2 so far at Hausdorff, and both were eager to get that firs Brooklyn win.  It was every bit the close game that was anticipated. The Detroit team moved out to take the lead, and held it for most of the first half.  But, Cooper stayed close.  Late in the second quarter, the Macs pulled even, then jumped ahead to lead by two at the half.  For the remainder of the game, the cushion never extended beyond 4 points, and Cooper maintained the advantage all half the second half.  Trailing by 4, Farber pushed to close the gap, but could not get the ball to drop.  In the end, Cooper prevailed, 39-35, setting the stage for the rematch between the two schools in Sunday morning’s 3rd Place contest.

The nightcap was a battle of Hausdorff unbeatens.  From the start, the game shaped up to be a great match up.  Flatbush jumped out to an early lead on inside baskets by Teddy Hara.  Katz took advantage of their size, though, to draw fouls against the Falcons, and getting outside scoring from Max Frohlich tied the game at 10-10.  A steal and power drive in the the final ten seconds of the quarter gave Flatbush the two-point lead after one.  The teams continued to play intesne ball at both ends, and with under two minutes to play, it was a 4-point game with Flatbush still holding the lead.  the last minute saw Laham come up with a big-time fade in the lane, and after the defense denied the Storm, Morris Chaaya finished a smooth flip on a backdoor cut to give the Falcons an 8-point advantage heading into the locker room, with Flatbush ahead of Katz by a score of 22-14.

Halftime brought one of the most popular moments of every Hausdorff Tournament – the raffle shootout!  18 tickets were drawn by Tournament Director Mike Gelber, and in turn a shooter came out to shoot for that ticket holder.  Each ticket pulled assured the winner of a prize. The shooter then shoots a lay up, a free throw, a three-point shot and finally a half court shot (the catch is you have to hit the previous shot to progress on.  As soon as the shooter misses, their turn is over.  Depending upon how successful the shooter is, the prize could be as large as a 55′ flatscreen TVor a small as an indoor-outdoor basketball.  And, if a shooter managed to hit all 4 shots in order, that shooter would earn the grand prize – a treasure trove of memorabilia including a basketball signed by the 2018-19 Brooklyn Nets, a Roger Craig signed San Francisco 49ers jersey, and the biggest prize of all – a NY Jets helmet signed by the 1969 Super Bowl III Champions.  For the 23rd consecutive year, no one took home the grand prize, but it was very close.  Falcon David Ronen hit his first three shots (he was the only one to do so), and stepped to midcourt.  He lofted the ball on a seemingly perfect arc.  as it neared the hoop, it looked like this might be the year. It was off by the smallest of margins, but it was enough to leave the trove in place, awaiting another year for some future Hausdorff participant to take their shot.

That left one final half of play to be completed.  The Flatbush coaching triumvirate of Coach Kennedy, Coach Gurock and Coach Dayon drove home two points at the intermission – stay in control on defense (i.e., no more fouls) and continue to share the ball on offense.  It sank in, as Sammy Levy was able to stay on the court this half, and it paid off.  The team passed the ball with precision and the inside game of Hara and Levy allowed the Falcons to extend the lead to double digits.  The Storm got a lift midway through the fourth quarter when Aiden Sausen stole the ball and took it the other way for a lay in.  But, it was not enough.  Flatbush won the final game of round robin play by a score of 47-28, setting the stage for the rematch tomorrow afternoon when the Storm and Falcons will go heat-to-head once again, this time for the Hausdorff Championship Title.

So, Championship Sunday is set: 3rd Place will be decided between the Cooper Maccabees and the Farber Fire at 11:00 am.  The Flatbush Falcons and Katz Storm will face off for the Hausdorff Championship at 12:20 pm.  See you in the morning at the Falcons Nest!