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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Hausdorff 2016: Day 3

Words can only begin to describe the amazing atmosphere that is the Shabbat experience of the Hausdorff Weekend in Brooklyn, NY. When they say “you had to be there,” it is truly applicable in this instance. With Rabbi Besser at the helm, the Hausdorff Tournament not only brought boys from four distinct and different regions of the country together in welcoming the Shabbat, the boys and their coaches shared Divrei Torah and Mishnayot that were both insightful and inspirational in ways that certainly served to “elevate the spirit” of the event’s namesake, Thomas “Tim” Hausdorff.
The crowning event of the Shabbaton part of the weekend was clearly the oneg shabbat on Friday night. Hosted graciously by Flatbush family Amy and Steve Sasson in their beautiful home a few blocks from Flatbush HS, the student-athletes joined in celebration of the Shabbat with words of learning from Flatbush ballplayer Ricky Sasson and from Katz Yeshiva administrator Shimmy Kaminetsky. They heard words of appreciation from Katz Yeshiva Head Coach Uri Yudewitz and Cooper Yeshiva Head Coach Jason Redd. But it was Flatbush Coach “Rabbi” Gus who really boosted the crowd as he started the singing with a number of heart-felt zemirot. To see, hear and feel the respect and energy the Hausdorff participants and Committee members gave to their singing and celebrating was both emotionally uplifting and communally rewarding – in the real sense of coming together as Klal Yisrael!

After havdalah at the local host houses, it was time to get the action going in the Falcons Nest once again in the final round of preliminary contests. The early game saw Memphis’s Cooper Macs face off against Detroit area’s Farber Pioneers. Both teams came in to the game looking for their first win of the tournament.

Farber wasted no time getting things in gear taking the opening tip straight to the hoop for a strong inside lay in. Play was spirited, with both teams actively pursuing the ball over every inch of the court. But the hoop proved elusive to the Macs, as they needed nearly half the period to register their first points in the game. After one period of play, the score stood 13-3 in favor of the boys from Michigan. Cooper gained a semblance of equality in play in the 2nd Quarter, as the two teams each scored 6 points in the period, but it did not allow the Macs to close the gap, and the score stood 19-9 at the half.
Quarter 3 saw Farber find a little bit of its offensive groove, as they were able to put tether a big run late in the quarter to get separation from the Macs for a 39-16 advantage. The final period was more of the same, and Farber closed out the win, 48-29.
The Saturday nightcap would see two teams yet to lose at the Tournament, and by the end of the night, only one would remain perfect on the weekend. Flatbush hit their opening salvo, a long shot from Joe Kattan for the early 3-0 lead. The Katz press yielded its first dividend for the Storm when a turnover led to an easy lay in to make it a 5-2 ball game, but the falcons answered right back with a lay in by Isaac Sutton.
Katz finally got even on the scoreboard when Noah Mamman hit a 3 to knot the score at 9 apiece, but Flatbush’s A.J. Cohen swished a corner “j” to take back the lead. It was now a see-saw battle, and the score score stood even, 13-13, after one. The Storm found a new gear in the 2nd Quarter, ripping off 10 straight points to take a 23-13 lead less than a minute and a half in and prompt a Flatbush timeout. Katz eventually extended their lead to a largest of 15 points in the period, and held off a late run from Flatbush to take a 32-21 lead into the intermission.
Halftime brought one of the most anticipated activities of the Hausdorff Tournament – the “Split the Pot” drawing and the “4-Shot Parlay Shootout, for the raffle prizes (including a 50” flat screen TV, and Apple Watch, XBox-1, bluetooth speakers, Spalding Basketballs, NFL “Duke” Football and assorted pro sports memorabilia – including a NY Jets helmet signed by all the members of the 1969 Super Bowl III championship team, the crown jewel of the collection). Though no shooter hit all 4 shots (a lay up, a free throw, a three-pointer and a half-court shot: all must be in a row and in under 30 seconds to win the full memorabilia collection), Flatbush Sophomore Abe Chetrit was the big winner, taking home the top prizes.

After the what equates to Showtime at the Hausdorff Tournament, the Falcons and Storm returned to the court to finish what they started. Flatbush again scored first, but this time Katz answered immediately to extend their lead to 37-24. Flatbush got the deficit under double digits with one minute to play in the period, but the Storm got the last salvo to push the lead back to 10, leading 40-30 after three quarters of play. The final quarter was all about the defense. By the 3:33 mark, Flatbush was extra stingy on defense, not allowing a single Storm point, but the Falcons could only muster three of their own to make it a 40-33 ballgame. Katz got off with a free throw, but an ensuing hoop by Flatbush made it a 5-point game with 2:17 to play. A David Dweck falling lay in of a huge rebound cut the lead to only 2 points with under a minute to play. Then, Flatbush forced a turnover on an errant long pass by the Storm, and Dweck soon found himself on the line with a chance to tie the game. He could only muster 1-2 to cut the lead to only 1, 41-40, with 40 seconds to play. Katz drew a foul and they, too, converted 1-2, to return to the 2-point cushion. With the ball and trailing, Flatbush called timeout to set the scene for the final 27 seconds of play, and what would be the most exciting finish of the tournament to this point. But after running the offense for a bit, the back court turned the ball over, and fouled Katz’s Abie Betesh as he was heading in for the lay up. But he missed both, and Flatbush gathered the rebound with 10 seconds to play. With the clock winding down, the ball found its way to the hands of Joe Kattan, and he lofted his signature corner three – and found nothing but the bottom of the net! For the first time since the first quarter, Flatbush had the lead, 43-42. The Storm would have one last chance, but with 1.8 seconds on the clock, they overthrew the inbounds pass, giving the ball back to Flatbush. Kattan was immediately fouled, and he hit 1-2, again giving Katz one more last chance with .8 seconds still to play. Flatbush defensed the entry pass, and by the time the Storm got off a shot, the buzzer had sounded, sealing the Flatbush comeback, and setting a very competitive tone for the upcoming rematch to be played by these two squads today, when they will face off for all the Hausdorff marbles in the Tournament Championship game (tip off is scheduled for 12:30 pm).

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Hausdorff 2016: Day 2

It was a quick turnaround for the boys of the four competing schools on Friday morning (12/2), with the boys from Katz, Cooper and Farber basically just having settled in for the night when they were awoken by their alarms to a new Brooklyn morning, the call for Shacharit tefilot and the first of the two morning games of the 2nd Day of play in the 21st Hausdorff Tournament.
The early game pitted the host Flatbush Falcons against the Macs of Memphis’ Cooper Yeshiva HS. Flatbush jumped out to the early 3-0 lead when Leon Ades corralled the rebound of the opening salvo, kicked it back out to Eddie Lincer who swished the 3 ball. The falcons were off and running from that point, on their way to a 37-12 halftime lead. Cooper did not fold up their tents, though. The Macs put points on the board in three of their first four possessions of the 2nd half, battled hard throughout and kept coming at Flatbush with everything they had. They showed marked improvement from their performance the night before, but Flatbush worked the ball methodically on offense, and scored more often than not. In the end, Flatbush was just to strong, and closed out the Game “C” win, 67-31.
After the game, the members of all four teams gathered in the Beit Midrash for a special shiur with Rabbi Joseph Beyda, Principal of Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School. After welcoming the participants, Rabbi Beyda shared a lesson taken from the week’s Parasha – Toldot. The lesson focused on the two brothers, Yaakov and Eisav, noting that the Parasha refers to Yaakov as “yoshev ohalim,” and asks why does the Torah state that Yaakov sits in tents – plural – and not in a tent – singular, as would seem the more correct usage of language. First, Rabbi Beyda pointed out that the “tent” is akin more to a Beit Midrash – a place of study – rather than just a dwelling. He went on to point out that the use of the plural “ohalim” is done purposely to show that Yaakov did not sit in just one tent, but rather he sat in more than one – he studied in more than one location, with more than one teacher; he studied with and learned from various sources. Rabbi Beyda related this story to the Hausdorff event, noting “we usually sit in our own places, but here we have an opportunity to get together and share our learning.” Place the focus on sharing the specialness of our differences, valuing them, and letting them bring us together to connect and grow. He challenged the players to get to know one another and “to sit in more than one tent” over the course of the weekend.
After a break for lunch, which for many meant an excursion to the kosher restaurants that abound on Avenue J and Coney Island, the teams from South Florida and Michigan faced off in the Falcons Nest.
It was a defensive battle from the start, with Katz registering the first points on a three pointer nearly 4 minutes in to the game. Both teams battled hard, and it showed in the score. Farber yielded only 7 points in the quarter, but it was if their was a lid on the rim for the Pioneers, as they could not score at all in the opening period. They remedied that in the opening possession of the 2nd Quarter to cut the lead to 7-3. The Storm responded in kind, as the offenses began to find some rhythm with the score 13-5 Katz just three and a half minutes in. But it would be Farber that finally found its groove in the 2nd Quarter, closing to 13-10 with 1:30 to play before Katz finally answered to put the lead back to 5.
That is where it stood at the midpoint, with the Storm holding an 18-13 advantage. The 3rd Quarter belongs to the Storm, as they clearly found what was missing offensively during the break, and streaked out to a commanding 43-18 lead by the end of the period. The final period was more of the same, and the game closed with Katz defeating Farber, 51-26.
With the Friday games in the books, it was time to pause from basketball and get ready for the Shabbaton aspect of Hausdorff. Kabbalat Shabbat was called for 4:30 pm with a scrumptious Seudat Shabbat to follow. The Hausdorff festivities went into high gear later at night when the Hausdorff participants are joined by members of the Flatbush community in what has become one of the most looked-forward to aspects of the Shabbaton – the Oneg Shabbat (which was graciously hosted at the home of Amy and Steve Sasson).

NEST NOTES: Motzei Shabbat will see the two teams looking for their first win of the tournament face off when Farber and Cooper do battle in the first game of the night at 7:00 pm. The nightcap will see the two undefeated teams tip off when Katz takes on host Flatbush at approximately 8:45 pm.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Flatbush Lobbies Washington

 On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, The Israel Activism Commission under the leadership of commissioners Ben Wade and Amanda Heskiel along with Mr. Rothbort and Senora Shterenzer, journeyed to Washington D.C. along with 45 students to lobby three congressional offices and one senate office regarding the American Israel relationship. The students were divided into four groups, each of whom were all sent to different offices, including the office of Senator Chuck Schumer, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Congressman Peter King, and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice. Upon arrival in the capitol, the Israel Activism students headed to AIPAC’s (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) headquarters in Washington to participate in a lobbying preparation session with some of AIPAC’s best lobbyists and student coordinators.
Once the session was complete, the students headed to their lobbying appointments, which were extremely successful. We were able to participate in a political process that only one percent of Americans take advantage of. Not only were our appointments successful, but the senate legislation that we lobbied in support of, the Iran Sanctions Extension Act, was passed two days later by a unanimous majority. 
The students then proceeded to the Supreme Court for an amazing and very education tour of our nation’s most powerful court, which was an amazing learning experience for the students. We then went to the steps of the capitol to take an amazing picture of the commission to conclude our day in Washington. Once we returned to the buses, we enjoyed an amazing dinner from Char Bar, one of the best kosher burger restaurant’s in Washington D.C, and headed back to Brooklyn. ~Ben Wade, Class of 2017

Photo Gallery: 
AIPAC Trip to Washington 2016/5777

Hausdorff 2016 is Underway!

Over 20 years ago, Coach Mike Gelber and Rabbi Naftali Besser – along with the rest of the Flatbush community – were shocked and saddened by the sudden loss of their dear friend and colleague, Principal Thomas Hausdorff, z’l. He was a teacher, an athlete, a mentor and a friend. In their grief, they sought an avenue to keep the memory of Mr. Hausdorff alive in a way that would be both meaningful and educational – and athletic; all things that were part and parcel to the character of the man. So was born the Hausdorff Tournament.

With this annual get-together, not only have Coach Gelber and Rabbi Besser kept alive the spirit and legacy of Thomas Hausdorff, they have created an event that has positively impacted hundreds of young yeshivah boys and girls in ways even they could have never dreamed possible.

Thursday night (12/1), that legacy continued as the Yeshivah of Flatbush welcomed JV Boys Basketball teams from Memphis, Tennessee, Southfield, Michigan (suburban Detroit) and Boca Raton, Florida to join the school’s own JV Falcons as they gather to compete, to learn and to celebrate in the 21st Annual Hausdorff Invitational JV Basketball Tournament and Shabbaton.
As has been tradition, almost immediately after arriving to the Brooklyn school, the visiting teams joined together to with their hosts, first to pray the Arvit (Ma’ariv) tefilot and then to engage in an act of great chesed – the Yachad program. Yachad, The National Jewish Council for Disabilities, is a thriving global organization dedicated to addressing the needs of all Jewish individuals with disabilities and ensuring their inclusion in every aspect of Jewish life. Our inclusive design aims to ensure persons with diverse abilities their rightful place within the Jewish community, while helping to educate and advocate for a greater understanding, acceptance, outreach, and a pro-disability attitude. The program, led by Rabbi Besser, brought the players together with members of the local Yachad community to share in the spirit of singing, dancing and dining together.

It was then time to get down to the business of basketball! Up first were the teams from Memphis and South Florida. The Cooper Macs, who arrived to New York on Wednesday night and spent the better part of Thursday exploring The City – from Yeshiva University to Times Square, squared off against the Katz Yeshiva Storm. The Macs of Memphis jumped out to the early 3-1 lead, but could not build on it. Halfway through the opening quarter, Katz evened the score, then the Storm stormed right past them to take a 13-4 lead at the end of the period. Cooper found some life in the 2nd Quarter, and cut the deficit to 6 at 17-11, but Katz not only answered, they exploded past the Macs, and took a 32-13 lead at the half. Katz poured it on in the second half, and cruised the rest of the way to a 52-19 win in the opening game of the tournament.

A bit later than planned, the host Flatbush Falcons faced off against the Farber Pioneers in the Day 1 nightcap. Farber struck first, but Flatbush soon came back to take the 8-4 lead midway through the opening quarter on a Joe Kattan floater. It was clear, though, that this would be a defensive battle, as the teams played tough end-to-end with Flatbush maintaining the 4-point cushion to lead 11-7 after one quarter of play. Farber was not content to keep thing that way, though, and scored the first 7 points of quarter number 2, prompting a Falcon timeout to stem the momentum that had swung in favor of the Pioneers. It proved positive for the falcons, as they went on a small run of their own to take a 17-14 lead with 3:40 left in the half. Flatbush then found a new gear, going on a 7-1 run to close out the half, and take both the momentum and a 24-15 lead into the break. The 3rd Quarter, though both teams battled, Flatbush continued to slowly stretch the lead and held a 35-22 advantage heading into the final quarter of play. It was more of the same in the final quarter, as Flatbush did not let farber back in at all, closing out Day 1 of Hausdorff with the 43-28 win.

NEST NOTES: Kudos to the Hausdorff broadcasting team of Natanel BenShabat, Max Shemtob and Ariel Uzan, for making the games exciting nationwide!

(photos courtesy of Sarah Cohen)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thanksgiving Showcase

Before Thanksgiving we had the opportunity to go to the Sephardic Community Center to learn about different ways to make thanksgiving meals. It was such an educational and fun experience. We learned how to embellish the thanksgiving table festively with pumpkins and all sorts or decorations.We also learned how to roast the perfect turkey and grill acorn squash. Thank you to the Pathfinders Program for making this happen 
~Barbara Beyda, Class of 2017

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Remembering the Forgotten Refugees

The world has largely ignored the suffering of nearly 1 million Jews from Muslim countries who were persecuted and ultimately forced to leave their homes between 1948 and the 1970's. These Jews are the real 'forgotten refugees.'

Even within the Jewish community, there is a lack of awareness of what happened to Middle Eastern or Mizrachi Jewry. To correct this, two years ago the Israeli government established November 30 as the day to mark the departure and expulsion of Jews from Arab countries and Iran. November 30 was chosen because it is the day after the 29th of November 1947, when the U.N. Adopted the partition plan, which the Jews accepted but the Arabs rejected. From that day on, many communities of Jews in Arab countries began to feel the pressure and hostility from their Arab and Persian neighbors and as a result were forced to leave their countries, in most cases with literally nothing but the clothes on their back. Many of the refugees went to Israel, others to Europe and the United States, where they had to rebuild their lives and often under difficult conditions.

Here At the Yeshivah of Flatbush, many of us are of Mizrachi descent. The story of the forgotten refugees is our story. Many of us have great grandparents, grandparents, and even parents who experienced brutal antisemitism and had to leave their homes, their businesses, their entire lives and start again in strange new environments.

The world may have chosen to forget the 'forgotten refugees', but we do not. Today we acknowledge and commemorate their suffering and their terrible losses. But we also acknowledge and honor their courage and strength in rebuilding their lives so that we, their children, could live in freedom and comfort.

~Ricky Aboutboul, Class of 2017

Today we remembered the "forgotten refugees" - the Jews who fled from Arab lands by asking students to place a pushpin on their family's country of origin.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Election Season at Flatbush

Fall is an exciting time for the AP US Government and Politics class, taught by Ms. Shelley Kaplowitz. Beginning over this past summer and running through Election Day, the class created a ‘mirror’ presidential campaign. There was a ‘Clinton’ and a ‘Trump’, 2 campaign managers plotting strategy, 2 campaign teams raising ‘money’ and then using that to create posters, campaign commercials, and special campaign events promoting their candidate. Part of the project was for the US Gov’t students to explain the differences between Democrats and Republicans, and the issues that defined each party so that the entire student body would understand what was going on in the ‘real world’. This campaign culminated with 2 debates on Election Day, each for half the school at a time. Here, the ‘candidates’ had to answer a series of questions from Phoenix reporters, as well as the audience, about their policies—no easy task when you’re not the actual candidate, but have to answer what they would answer. Finally, the entire school was able to vote for the candidate of their choice.
The highlight of the project came a couple of days prior to Election Day, when the US Gov’t students were invited, thanks to the annual generosity of Steve Cohn (father of Warren, class of 2005), to a political fundraiser where the students met and talked to, Governor Cuomo, Mayor DeBlasio (who gave Flatbush a shout-out from the podium), several members of Congress, the city and state legislatures, and the most of the Brooklyn DA’s office. (including Flatbush graduate David Klestzick) This was a rare opportunity to go behind the scenes and see how politics operate and to do some networking for their future.
Said Ms. Kaplowitz: “The entire project allows for the integration of the real world outside, into the curriculum that’s on the page in the students’ classrooms. No matter who wins in the Mock Election, ALL the students are winners because it makes the subject come alive for them in a way that would not be possible otherwise”.

Photo Gallery:
Mock Election 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

STEM Israel Trip 2016: Days 5 & 6

We woke up on Friday morning thrilled to be in Yerushalayim! After Shacharit & breakfast, we had the last of our series of entrepreneurial workshops, a very interesting and informative session on Industrial Design with Amir Kadouri. We learned about form vs function, how to make the form of your product match the function, and how to choose the right colors, materials and designs that will be the most appealing to your customers. We had design challenges- making a package to show and carry an egg, without breaking it, and other interesting projects.

After this it was on to the Machane Yehudah Shuk for lunch and a little shopping. Finally we went back to the hotel to prepare for an early ride to the Kotel for Kabbalat Shabbat. It was truly moving to see the soldiers dance and sing in the start of the Shabbat. We were praying with extra kavana as we thought about our brothers and sisters who had to flee the raging fires that were set all over the country. We prayed for the much needed rain and for Hashem to bring peace to the land of Israel.

We ate our festive and delicious Friday night dinner at Aish Hatorah, and heard Divrei Torah from our guide, Koby, and from Mrs. Bacon. After our brisk walk back to our hotel, we had optional team building and math games before turning in for the night. 
By unanimous choice, we chose to walk back to the Kotel for Shacharit. It was an incredible experience as Koby explained the history of Yerushalayim. It truly made us feel connected to our history and ties to Eretz Yisrael in a way that is almost impossible to experience in a classroom setting.

We had Shabbat lunch and an optional afternoon activity; most of us chose to rest - but some went to the park to continue to enjoy the Yerushalayim experience. After Seudat Shlishit, Maariv and Havdalah, we went back to our rooms to pack for our early morning departure from the hotel. Our closing dinner, which was held at Piccolino restaurant, included a conversation with Bob Rosenschein, the founder of, and a chance for each of us to say what they found most enjoyable and what they learned. The evening ended with an outing to Ben Yehudah Street for a little more shopping before finally going to bed for the night.
We're now all home, after a long day of traveling, but the what we learned and experience this week will stay with us forever.

Friday, November 25, 2016

STEM Israel Trip 2016: Day 4

After tefillah and breakfast on the 4th day of the STEM Israel Trip we started with a visit to an Israeli public school in South Tel Aviv where we met Israeli students our age. The program was organized by Am Yisrael Echad and led by madrichim Rachel (who grew up in Flatbush before moving o Israel) and Bina.
While initially everyone was reluctant to interact with their foreign counterparts, an intense speed dating style icebreaker helped warm everyone up to each other. After the ice breaker we continued on to a room with snacks for a break, which turned into an impromptu interschool mannequin challenge. After that we moved on to a play a treasure hunt game in small mixed groups. When the program was over we continued to informally talk and get to know each other while exchanging ideas and practicing foreign languages. It turned out to be an excellent cultural and personal experience with our Israeli brethren.
After that we went to the Azrielli Mall in Tel Aviv for a "working" lunch to fine tune our startup pitch to the Zell students. We had a contest in which we pitched our startup ideas that we had been planning for the past week to the Zell entrepreneurial students at IDC University . We had a "Shark Tank" set up and pitched our startup to the mock investors to invest in our company. There were many fantastic ideas, like the gyro toothbrush, the hydrological energy system, and many more. After each company had presented their ideas to the panel, the panel voted on the winner of best pitch and product. It was a great experience!

We then enjoyed a full Thanksgiving dinner with Eytan Buchman, Director of Marketing at Freightos, to discuss co-existence and how it affects the Israeli Startup Nation. Rabbi Dr. Raymond Harari also joined us for the festive meal.  ~Jack Zeitouny and Jack Dweck, Class of 2019

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

STEM Israel Trip 2016: Day 3

The 3rd day of the STEM Israel Trip started with our long-awaited trip to the Technion in Haifa. It was thrilling to be in the university that started all of the technology research and industry in Israel and which is now one of the greatest science institutes in the world.
We took part in a robotics building workshop and produced robots that moved like snakes. It was a pretty thrilling challenge to see which team built the "snake" that was the fastest. We always love competing against each other- and of course it's always in good fun.
After lunch we went for a VIP tour of the underground emergency hospital at Rambam Hospital. They showed us videos of projects that they were working on, like how to restart a heart by using light pulses instead of a pacemaker. They also showed us videos of projects they already completed, for example there is new technology to help stop the tremors in someone with Parkinson's. Insightec has developed an MRI helmet that sends 100 very focused ultrasound waves into the brain. It eliminates surgery and the harm it can do the brain. Then they took us underground to a parking lot that can change into a underground hospital in case of war. Underground, there was a closed off room that was for patients that need to be isolated, like if they had Ebola. After showing us the isolation room they showed us a portable tent that they can be taken to crisis sites to assist patients. The last thing they showed us was the surgical unit they use underground in case of a terrorist or other urgent situation. From this tour we realized that Israel is prepared to medically help its people in any situation that might occur.  ~Esther Hidary, Class of 2019
We then went in to the educational science playground at Madatech and had a great time experimenting with the different machines - especially the giant lever. There was lots of fun action! After the visiting the educational playground at Madatech, we went to a workshop in their STEM research labs with a member of Technion, where we learned how to use the software PicoBlock. We worked in pairs, and each pair was supplied with a robot and computer. We learned how to use the block features on PicoBlock to make the robot travel, stop, and reverse its direction. We also learned how to use "if/then statements," which are conditional statements that search for an input in order to give an output. 
Lastly, we learned how to program an LCD screen, or display screen. Using the block features, we generated numbers to appear on the screen to depicted the number of times the robot touched metal. At the end of the lesson, we saw Madatech's robot that acted on voice command. For example, it obeyed when told to stand, sit, and dance. The robot performed an entertaining dance of the Macarena for us, until it was put back to sleep. After a long and packed day, we finally headed back to the hotel to prepare our start-up pitches in preparation for tomorrow's visit to IDC! ~Lauren Zami, Class of 2019