LIFTOFF: Firehawk star Joe Schnitzer leaps for a basket during the first game of the Steve Glouberman tournament in Shalhevets new gym Nov. 12. (Ezra Fax)
LIFTOFF: Firehawk star Joe Schnitzer leaps for a basket during the first game of the Steve Glouberman tournament in Shalhevets new gym Nov. 12.

Ezra Fax

TOURNAMENT TIME: Steve Glouberman Basketball Tournament greets schools from throughout U.S.

Shalhevet prepares for first-ever Jewish high school basketball tournament on the West Coast, bringing in more than 150 students from around the country for four days of basketball, community building and remembering someone special.

November 12, 2015

While basketball has always been important to Shalhevet, this year it aims for a new level entirely as the school prepares to host the first-ever Steve Glouberman Basketball Tournament in the new gym of the new building.

Games will take place both at school and in the JCC from Thursday, Nov. 12, through Sunday the 15th, and a Shabbaton is planned for the 14 participating teams. Schools from New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Maryland will be represented along with local rivals YULA and De Toledo (formerly New Community Jewish High School).

The tournament is named in honor of Steve Glouberman, who passed away last January. Steve was the father of three Shalhevet alumni – Leah, class of 2013, and Jeremy and Rachel, class of ‘15. 

Their mother, Mrs. Flora Glouberman, says Steve loved sports, especially basketball.

“I kind of feel like it’s the perfect way to honor him,” said Mrs. Glouberman in an interview. “Steve believed in competition, working with a team, never giving up, being a fighter, so I think it’s very important for his memory.”

Head of School Rabbi Ari Rabbi Segal said the tournament was honoring someone very special.

“We are thrilled to be able to memorialize Steve in this way, as he loved basketball and loved the idea of Jewish teenagers being together in this kind of way,” Rabbi Segal said.

In an interview, Rabbi Segal said the tournament also aimed to build connections with the Jewish community.

“The opportunity for sport to transcend philosophical and ideological differences is exactly what we hope to achieve this weekend,” said Rabbi Segal in an email to the community.

“Of course we look forward to breaking the seal on our new gym with spirited competition. More important, however, we look forward to fostering a genuine sense of communal achdus [unity] and to build connection that will last a long time.”

There will be two separate tournaments; one made up of eight boys’ teams, and the other comprised of six girls’ teams. 

Participating boys teams are Shalhevet, YULA, and De Toledo from Los Angeles, Frisch from Paramus, N.J. Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy (SAR) from Riverdale, N.Y., Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC) from Teaneck, N.J., Abraham Joshua Heschel School from New York City, and Berman Hebrew Academy from Rockville, Md..

Shalhevet, YULA, Heschel, Frisch and Berman will be participating in the girls’ tournament, along with and Akiva Hebrew Day School from Southfield, Mich.

The event is a West Coast first for Jewish basketball. In years past, the only tournament for Jewish high schools to compete in was the Red Sarachek Tournament, run by Yeshiva University in New York. Shalhevet won the Sarachek championship in 2013 and will compete again this year.  

 But there will be several differences from Sarachek. First of all, Firehawk Athletic Director Mr. Eli Schiff said that while Sarachek teams come into the tournament with a predetermined ranking, at the Glouberman Tournament, Shalhevet administrators will decide how to rank the teams on the first day in Los Angeles, based on that day’s play.

“We are going to take into account who played, how well, and possibly pre-tournament [expectations],” said Mr. Schiff. “Rabbi Segal, [Principal Reb] Noam Weissman and a few other people will sit down and determine the rankings.”

Rabbi Segal said it was fair to worry about bias, so others would also be involved, though he declined to say whom.

“There will be a seeding committee including non-Shalhevet staff members who will help determine the seeding,” said Rabbi Segal. 

Reb Noam said that it was “confidential, but an outside third party” would determine the rankings. 

The tournament’s second day, Friday, Nov. 13, will start actual tournament games and the teams will play according to rank, officials said. 

 For the boys, the top seed will play the No. 8 seed, the No. 2 seed will play the No. 7 seed, the No. 3 seed will play the No. 6 seed, and the No. 4 seed will play the No. 5 seed.

Because the girls only have six teams, the top two seeds will not play in the first round of the tournament, and seeds 3 and 6 will play each other, along with seeds 4 and 5. 

Following the seeding games, if a team loses, it will be out of the running for the championship and will only be able to play in consolation games with other teams who’ve lost, to determine what place each team ends up in. 

In between games, officials have planned three-point contests for both male and female players so they can show off their basketball shooting skills. 

A second difference between Sarachek and Glouberman tournaments Sarachek is only for boys. A third is that Shalhevet will host a full Shabbat program along with the tournament. 

“This won’t be in a university setting, but a high school setting with a great Shabbaton feel to it,” said Reb Noam.

Organizers have planned Friday night davening and dinner at Bnai David Judea for the teams, followed by a dessert reception for the community. 

Saturday davening and lunch for the teams has been arranged at Beth Jacob Congregation, with a Se’udat Shelishit at the home of Shalhevet students Alex and Ben Reich. 

Reb Noam said that the tournament would offer a chance for the local community to become better connected. 

 “Sometimes in Los Angeles, we don’t have so many opportunities to meet Jews from other cities,” said Reb Noam. “This is a great opportunity for students both within Los Angeles and outside to get together and to get to know one another.”

Shabbat ends at 5:30 Saturday night and the tournament will resume one hour later back at Shalhevet and the JCC.

But perhaps the biggest difference of all is that YU’s Sarachek is backed by a 6,438-student university, whereas the Glouberman is being backed by a 227-student high school.  

That means there has been a large-scale, community-wide effort to make it happen, one that will continue throughout the weekend. Many students and much of Shalhevet’s staff have been involved.

“Families from every shul and school are hosting,” said Shalhevet Director of Development Mrs. Claire Benyowitz, who is coordinating much of it. “It has been amazing to see the community step up and come together.”

None of the out-of-town players are staying in hotels. Mrs. Benyowitz has arranged housing with local families.

“We have had to house over 160 people,” said Mrs. Benyowitz. “It has been a major undertaking as we wanted to make sure that everyone had a bed and was not on the floor. Also we wanted to keep everyone in the Beverlywood area.

“All the administration at the school have had to work in every type of logistics,” she continued, “from security, cleaning crew, setting up all the rooms and gym as well as putting together a great Shabbaton, as well as working the school schedule.”

Another organizational effort is broadcasting the games, According to Mr. Schiff, there will be no broadcasts of JCC games because the Internet there is too slow.  But Technology Director Mr. Yossie Frankel has set up a live video feed from the school gym, so every game at Shalhevet will be broadcast live via Internet around the country. 

There will be five cameras at Shalhevet streaming through, and The Boiling Point will provide play-by-play reporting and color commentary for most on-campus games.  

“The whole process of finding commentators and sidelines reporters and coordinating it with all the games definitely took focus and concentration, and it is coming at a time when we are printing as well,” said Boiling Point Editor-in-Chief Eric Bazak. “But I think we are all extremely excited to have this privilege and broadcast the games. The whole tournament is great for publicity and gives us a name on the East Coast.” 

In addition to the administration and The Boiling Point, about 60 Shalhevet student volunteers will be doing things like selling snacks, keeping score, keeping statistics of the games, and running social media. 

Considering the lack of professional support, the greatest accomplishment of the Glouberman tournament may be its existence.

“There have always been ideas,” said Reb Weissman. “Coming up with ideas isn’t hard. Implementing them is. 

“We’ve always said let’s do a basketball tournament in LA. The idea has been there, as have many ideas, but we decided to execute it now. We spoke with Flora and thought of a great way to honor Steve’s memory.”

Mrs. Glouberman said the tournament would be very meaningful for her amily.

“Steve was an athlete, he played basketball on the YULA team, and I met him that way,” she said. “He loved sports, and loved to watch his kids play in any games they were in.” 

The Glouberman children played on six Firehawks sports teams. Leah played basketball and flag football, Jeremy played baseball, basketball, and flag football and Rachel played volleyball. 

“My dad loved that we all played sports,” said Jeremy. “He would try to come home from work early to come and watch us play whatever sport we were playing that day.  He loved seeing us have fun and enjoy something that he enjoyed to do when he was younger.” 

When Mr. Glouberman passed away after a long battle with cancer, Shalhevet hired busses and canceled a day of school so students could attend his funeral.

“The whole Shalhevet community was above and beyond kind to us and supportive of us, and it was really important to me personally,” said Mrs. Glouberman. “Steve and I both have such a love for Shalhevet and what it gave our kids and the community.”

Mrs. Glouberman said it was Rabbi Segal who came up with the idea of naming the tournament for him.

“I went to Rabbi Segal and told him I’d want to do something to honor him,” said Mrs. Glouberman. “He said they were thinking of doing a tournament and he thought it would be a perfect match. We can teach his legacy to other people and continue his name through something that is very fun and exciting.”

Tournament Time : How to follow the games, at school and beyond

Two out of the four days of the Steve Glouberman Memorial Basketball Tournament are school days, so will Shalhevet students be able to watch?

Yes and no. 

When Shalhevet played in the Sarachek tournament in New York last spring, a screen was put up in the auditorium for kids to watch games during lunch and free periods. With the Glouberman games being right in the building, administrators expect a major pull to watch during class.

And that’s a good thing, said Principal Reb Noam Weissman.

“We want the excitement of the tournament to affect the whole school,” said Reb Noam. “But when Shalhevet games are not being played, students and teachers will work together to make sure class goes on.”

To address this concern and also have as many fans as possible present to cheer, all of the Firehawks’ games are being scheduled during non-class time, and the bell schedule hs been adjusted.  All of Shalhevet’s play-in games to determine their seeding have been scheduled for during Town Hall period, lunch, or after school, and Town Hall has been cancelled.

That means that except for the first day, the only Shalhevet game students will have to miss for class is one on Friday.  

That doesn’t mean all Firehawk games will all be held in the new building, however. Half will be played in the gym of the JCC.

“Fortunately the community has been very welcoming to this tournament,” said Athletic Director Mr. Eli Schiff. “We have to thank many different schools that are letting us use their time in the JCC gym for the tournament. I don’t think we could’ve run the tournament without them.”

If you can’t be there in person, games played at Shalhevet will also be shown by live video feed on the Boiling Point website,

Play-by-play, color commentary and interviews will be provided by the new staff of BP-Live, supplemented by Judaic Studies teacher Rabbi Ari Schwarzberg. The broadcasts will also be reported for viewing later.

UPDATE: Games are permanently viewable at the links below:

Girls Championship Game versus Frisch Academy


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