Young man with a big heart
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Young man with a big heart

Historically, Jews haven’t been known for their prowess in basketball. With the exception of some great Jewish-led teams in the 1940s, most Jews have found themselves watching the court rather than playing on it. But with basketball gaining popularity in Israel, it’s only a matter of time before it gathers steam here as well. And maybe Jon Lubat, a senior at The Frisch School in Paramus, will be the person to lead the Jewish charge.

Part Moses, part Moses Malone, this young man excels both on the court and in the classroom. As co-captain of the Frisch Cougars, he has led his team this year to a 13- win, 1-loss record in the Metropolitan Yeshiva League as the starting power forward. And this basketball success isn’t something new; he has been playing since he was a kid, and, during his sophomore year, led the junior varsity team to the title. Like his favorite player, the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Jon can take over a game with his scoring ability, but also can pull down rebounds and play defense at a very high level. Most important, however, is the leadership Jon has provided for his team, both on and off the court.

Jon never forgets his Jewish identity while he plays. He credits God for his success so far, praying every time he takes to the court. And in the past year, Jon has begun expanding his Judaic studies, carrying them out of the classroom and into his free time. Even more, this big man has a big heart. Jon’s resume of charitable work includes serving in a soup kitchen, helping children from abusive homes, and participating in a Chesed mission to Israel. In all of these causes, "Jon’s inner goodness and external smile brought joy and comfort to all," according to Rabbi Eli Ciner, assistant principal at The Frisch School, "It is these qualities, combined with his natural athletic abilities, which allow him to shine as co-captain of the boys basketball team."

When asked about his future in basketball, particularly in college, Jon said he was undecided. He wants to continue his studies, maybe at Yeshiva University, but says he is not sure that would leave time for basketball. But one thing is sure: Whether he plays or not, the Jewish community will have a unique young leader — and one with a killer jump shot.

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