The Thomas Hausdorff Memorial Basketball Tournament and Shabbaton is an enduring tradition at the Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School. Each year it brings yeshivah basketball teams from across the country together to share in four days of camaraderie, competition, inspiration and unmitigated fun.
The event is held in memory of Thomas Hausdorff A”H, a beloved JBHS principal. Mr. Hausdorff influenced both students and faculty members, as a teacher and as a friend. He served as a mentor to many, guiding them on the right path with encouragement and support. Good sportsmanship, respect for others, spirituality and love of Torah were qualities he exemplified.
At this year’s 17th annual event, the JBHS Boys JV basketball team was once again joined by Akiva Hebrew High School, from Southfield, Michigan, Cooper Yeshiva High School, from Memphis, Tennessee, and Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, from Livingston, New Jersey.
The weekend got off to a great start with the YOF/Yachad Hanukah Party, featuring crafts projects, pizza, dancing, and opportunities for all the tournament’s participants to get to know each other, the community’s Yachad members and guests. Rabbi Naftali Besser, JBHS Dean of Students, led the festivities.
Daniel Brystowski, an alumnus of Akiva of Detroit, attended the tournament four times while he was in high school. “Basketball is just a vehicle for what the tournament is really about,” he said. “It’s about learning not just to be a good Jew, but to be a good person, the type of person Mr. Hausdorff was.”
The days were packed with exciting games, divrei Torah, skills competitions and conversation. Flatbush won the championship game and Cooper won the consolation match. Allan Maleh was the MVP.
After basketball games on Thursday and Friday, gears changed as Shabbat was welcomed. Michelle and Steven Sasson, Amy and Steven Sasson and Eric and Suzanne Sasson opened their homes to the Hausdorff participants. Sunday brought the final games and a closing Awards Banquet.
Tournament Director Michael Gelber spent months preparing for the event with a terrific team at his side: his daughter and son-in-law Rebecca and Effie Silberman, Rabbi Besser, Alumni Director Bebe Levitt, an extraordinary student coordinating committee, led by Commissioners Raymond Chehova, Harriet Sasson and Emily Shrem, and faculty, staff and administrators. Gracious YOF families hosted the visiting athletes, coaches and chaperones and generous sponsors helped it all come to fruition.
The organizers steadfastly work to ensure that the Hausdorff Tournament perpetuates Mr. Hausdorff’s beliefs. His unique brand of school spirit emphasized the importance of midot and achdut (exemplary behavior) on the field and in the classroom. And his philosophy that Torah and sports can be appropriately and educationally integrated is a legacy much cherished by those he knew at the Yeshivah of Flatbush.
The Hausdorff family has joined us regularly over the years. This year, Tammy and Howard Spielman and their daughters, were there and, as a special treat, Jeffrey Hausdorff and his son flew in from Israel.
YOF Alumni Director Bebe Levitt commented, “I knew Mr. Hausdorff and he embodied American and Jewish values that are at the heart of this tournament. If each of us walks away with one idea from Rabbi Besser, we will all be enriched. If each of us pays it forward and shares it with others, that is the true legacy of Mr. Hausdorff.