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A Look At Yeshiva Basketball Through The Years

Short shorts, converse sneakers, and a cameo by young Alan Dershowitz

Lily Wilf
February 03, 2014

Just in time for the Heschel School’s final regular season basketball game tonight, Louie Lazar writes in Tablet about the program’s ambitious plans and unprecedented success in the New York Yeshiva basketball league. He also explains what, exactly, the New York Yeshiva basketball league is.

The Yeshiva League dates back to the 1940s. The Manhattan Talmudical Academy, one of the founding members, fielded a basketball team as early as 1940, and a 1946 yearbook refers to an “Inter Yeshiva League.” In the 1950s and 1960s, the league held championship games at Madison Square Garden; the 1953 title face-off, pitting the Manhattan Talmudical Academy against the Brooklyn Talmudical Academy, was scheduled as a warm-up act before a game between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knickerbockers and drew a crowd of nearly 10,000 people, many of them yeshiva students from throughout the city. Since 1965, MTA has won the most titles—eight—followed by the Frisch Cougars and the Yeshivah of Flatbush Falcons, with six each.

While Lazar goes on to describe the Heschel JV team’s success this season, we’d like to keep the spirit alive with some Yeshiva League nostalgia: yearbook photos from the 1940s and 50s teams. Check out these old-school photos of Yeshiva players shooting hoops in adorably short shorts, Converse sneakers, and impressive form:

From 1948:

From 1957:

Look closely and you’ll find a young, grinning Alan Dershowitz in the front row of this 1954 team photo:

Here’s a zoomed-in image:

And here are some solo shots starring starters and captains. From 1949:

From 1951:

Check out tonight’s game to see how Heschel performs, and to decide whether today’s uniforms are more efficient than those of seasons past.

(Photos courtesy of Manhattan Talmudical Academy/Yeshiva University Libraries)

Lily Wilf is an editorial intern at Tablet.