The Erez Jewish Youth league has begun once again as an opportunity for boys in fifth- to eighth-grade to wrestle in, as the organization’s ad claims, a “fun Jewish environment.” The goal of the program is to teach kids, who have little or no previous wrestling experience, the fundamentals of wrestling so that they will have a jumpstart and advantage for high school wrestling.
One high school student turned Erez coach, Yair Aviner, was one of the original kids in the program, before it became as popular as it is today. “It is definitely interesting being on the other end of the program,” claimed Aviner. “It’s a positive experience coaching the next generation of high school champions.”
The wrestling program is loosely connected to the fall Erez program which is smaller but more in depth for wrestling. The head coach of the spring program is Yoni Ellman, but as the season progresses, most of the coaching will be done by high school students.
Jewish wrestling has really become a dominant sport in many of the local Yeshivas. The Henry Wittenberg tournament culminates the end of a long and rigorous season which includes wrestling against Jewish and non-Jewish high schools.
Wrestling builds character that is necessary in many other activities that kids will experience as they grow older. “It inspires a competitive behavior in kids,” concluded Aviner, “but it is all for fun while also being a learning experience.”