I’ve forsaken Facebook. Deserted my Swiss Miss. Forgotten about the Fug Girls. Angry? For the birds. My new online time-suck of choice is one I never saw coming: Jewish Hoops America, a Website devoted to “Jewish high school basketball teams and players from around the country.”
I did not play basketball in high school—or ever. Rather, this site has captivated my attention because it opens a window onto an important part of my adolescence. For all of my early education (K-12), I attended a modern Orthodox yeshiva in Cedarhurst, Long Island, less than a mile away from the house in which my parents still live, in Lawrence. But my school, HAFTR, was informally part of a league of modern Orthodox yeshivot throughout the Tri-State Area, which included Ramaz in Manhattan, Yeshivah of Flatbush in Brooklyn, Frisch in New Jersey, SAR in Riverdale, Central and MTA—the two Yeshiva University-affiliated high schools in the region—and others across the country. The connections among the schools emerged mainly in the interstices of teenage life, where the students got to interact: Chiefly camp, sophomore seminars, and the myriad sports games that each played against the others. (If the words “Satran” or “Sarachek” mean something to you, you hail from whence I come.) And so, despite my lack of proficiency with a ball or puck of any kind, I still maintain some yichus: My first (alright, he was my second) boyfriend played on the legendary (fine: “legendary”) Yeshivah of Flatbush hockey team (okay, okay, it was floor hockey, but still.)
Which is why I have found myself, deep into the night, trawling endlessly through Jewish Hoops America. It has, above all else, made me wistful for modern Orthodoxy’s days of yore, before the tug rightward, before infinitesimal distinctions—“she’s a Bais Yaakov girl,” “he wears a kipa sruga”—became fundamental differences, when a girl could walk the hallways of HAFTR proudly preening in her boyfriend’s Yeshivah of Flatbush jacket.
So how could I resist a teaser like, “The best game of the night may be #2 YULA vs #22 Shalhevet”? Or Josh Stern’s VH1-inspired “Where Are They Now?” personal essay? Or the headline, “Is Reni Shulman TOO GOOD for Yeshiva Girls Basketball?”? And all of that even before you get to the breathless account of the January 2 game between Frisch and Kushner (yes, those Kushners; and, by the way, b’sha’ah tova, you crazy kids).
This entry, from the reader forum, needs to be read in full:
Elana Goldstein is by far the best player to ever exist. Standing at a mean 5’8 she has a sick jumpshot, and crashes the boards like no other. Kushner is currently 10-1 and she has been a main part of this streak. She won MVP and Lady Elite and Yaffee Memorial Tournament in 2008. She has a sick three point shot, and has the best defense ever. She has been compared to other players such as Dwayne Wade. One thing is for Certain, you better watch out for #13 on the Kushner Cobras, she will take you down.
And for those of you who favor multimedia over text, there is this can’t-miss video of Aaron Lieberman (Valley Torah) dunking on YULA.
In other news, Jewish Hoops America recently started a hockey forum. I really should have kept that jacket.
Related: The Young and the Restless [Nextbook.org]
Alana Newhouse is the editor-in-chief of Tablet Magazine.