Even though parks all over New Jersey are filled on Shabbat with kids playing basketball, there are few opportunities for youth from different counties to compete in non-organized, five-on-five settings. On April ‘, the Bergen County YJCC in Washington Township and Young Judaea gave teams of three just that chance, as a team from West Orange and Parsipanny beat out an all-Teaneck squad to place first in a fund-raiser for the Arava Institute.
Richard Kallus (West Orange), Steven Hoffer (West Orange), and Yoni Tammam (Parsippany) won the day’s top prize and helped raise more than $900 for Arava (www.arava.org), which brings together Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian students as well as students from other countries in the Middle East to study environmental sciences.
"Every year, the national teen board of Young Judaea chooses an organization or school in Israel to raise money for through all the Young Judaea regions around the country," said Rachel Baum, Young Judaea’s supervisor for New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. "The kids who are on the board went to the Arava Institute and got a real passion for it, and decided to raise money for it."
Young Judaea is the youth movement of national Hadassah, and, in keeping with the parent organization’s charitable tradition, is raising scholarship money to send one Israeli and one Palestinian to Arava. Young Judaea has more than 550 members in New Jersey and more than 4,000 members nationally.
More than 100 kids from New Jersey took part in the Slam Jam, which brought around the same number of spectators to Washington Township. Judah Shulman, Jason Steinberg, and Brian Steinberg, all of Teaneck, took second place, while the Glen Rock trio of Don White, Mike Berland, and Zach Bain rounded out the top three.
Slam Jam’s funding came from a bevy of local sponsors, including the YJCC, UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, Ma’adan, Temple Sholom, Temple Emanuel of Pascack Valley, Northern N.J. Hadassah, Southern N.J. Hadassah, and Tenafly Jeep.
Zach Zamechansky, Young Judaea’s teen administrative vice president, said, "Anytime we are able to combine raising money for a good cause with having a great time, we know that we’re in for a great event."-