Monday, January 28, 2013

Interview:'s Elliot Steinmetz

Had this website been around while I was in High School I would have been obsessed with it. As anyone who has played in the Red Sarachek Tournament or an intense rivalry game with Jewish pride on the line, adds a little more fuel to the fire. TGR loves the site and the idea, so much so we reached out to Elliot Steinmetz, the creator to find out more. Turns out he was a pretty good player himself. Below is the interview:


1) Tell TGR a little bit about yourself?
I am currently the head coach of the boys’ varsity basketball team at the North Shore Hebrew Academy High School (NSHA) in Great Neck, New York. In my first season at NSHA, Elliot led the school to its best record ever (23-8 overall, 12-2 league), as well as a division title and the school’s first ever semifinal appearance. From 2003-2008, I developed and ran the JV Elite basketball program before ultimately selling the program and maintaining and running the website. I live in Woodmere with my wife, Sima and our three children, Jacob, Noah and Lea. During the day I am an attorney licensed in both New York and Connecticut and currently working as an Associate General Counsel at Arbor Realty Trust, Inc. in Uniondale, New York.

2) What made you want to start
My brother and I used to run a basketball camp at the end of each summer for Jewish HS kids from around the country called JV Elite. We felt it was great how the players had those 5 days to see and compete with players they do not see or know of during the year. The site evolved from that lack of connection that we felt existed for Jewish schools across the country. We decided to put together the website and rankings so that players from across the country could have a place to follow and gauge each other's progress throughout the season.
3) What are some of the cool features on JHA?
I think the twitter feed is a terrific feature. We see every year how more and more people get involved with social media and this allows our visitors to interact with the site and help get information out there. The rankings are obviously a big hit because there is no other measure for Jewish HS teams nationally to compare. I think the rankings has also helped fuel a lot of the out of town tournaments and turned them into real competitive contests with legitimate repercussions in the rankings. I also have started to try and bring out more feature and interest articles. The last few articles have gotten a lot of feedback and sparked a lot of conversation in the Jewish and mainstream basketball world. I think features like that make it more than just an informational site and start to become thought provoking as well. 
4) How do you accumulate all the information for scoring and scores for the site?
Jon Bandler. Many know Jon from the Sarachek tournament at Yeshiva University. Jon is the reason we are able to pull together the national information. Jon is behind the scenes but the site doesn't run without his hard work. He is in touch nationally with coaches and athletic directors and compiles all the information for us to post.  Obviously a lot depends on the cooperation of the schools. I would love to see more students get involved as well. Perhaps get credit for a club or put on their résumé their work as a reporter for the site. I think it's been great in the past when we have student-written articles about their teams' success.

5) Who is on the panel for rankings? Is there a New York bias?
Since I am a coach in the Yeshiva league I am actually not told who is on the panel. Again, Jon Bandler takes responsibility for the rankings panel which consists of knowledgeable basketball personalities from around the country. There is not a NY bias by any means. I think often the stronger base of teams are going to be in NY and CA. You have to remember, with schools like Frisch, Ramaz, North Shore, Magen David and others, along with YULA and Valley Torah, the sheer volume of kids in the schools lends to a stronger talent pool year by year. This generally plays out in the tournaments as well. Any of the big tournaments, be it preseason in Memphis or Sarachek in the post-season will often see their final four dominated by NY and NJ schools along with CA and occasionally Chicago. Often, though not always, it is the larger schools too.
6) Out of all the players you have covered who is your starting 5 all-time?
Fun question.  I would have to go with (in no order):
1. Jordan Marcus of Solomon Schechter (now Golda Och Academy). 
2. Eitan Chemerinkski of JDS Maryland. 
3. Benjy Ritholtz who played for me at HANC. 
4. Yisrael Feld who played for MTA and played for me on the gold medal winning USA team in the Maccabi Games in Australia. 

I have to say to round this out I'm going to take a left turn. And by the way, there are so many great players I am leaving out here. But many of them I didn't have the chance to see in person, and truth be told, I had the good fortune to sit on the bench and watch two of the above players win championships for me so those are my guys. But to throw out just a couple of other names, Eric Avdee, Aaron Liberman, Solomon Schoonover, Shlomo Weisberg, Dovie Hoffman were all terrific players. Most of the above players are playing college basketball. 

Now for my 5th, I'm going with a young woman who played for Ramaz. Charlene Lerner. Charlene was a terrific player for Ramaz and a great three point shooter. Why does she make this list? Because she did all that with only one arm. Charlene was born without one arm from the elbow down. I was lucky enough to be a guest speaker with her at the preseason Cooper Tournament in Memphis last year. She is an extremely inspirational person with a great story and lesson. She would be my fifth starter along with the others.

7) What is the future of JHA? What is the next step?
We are actually working on a site update now that will hopefully take place in the very near future. This will help make the site more user friendly and social media capable. It will enhance the coverage and modernize many of the features. My hope is to continue to make the site as interactive as possible and continue to get as much school and student involvement as possible. I also want to continue to regularly put out opinion articles and interviews and other op-Ed type pieces which I think fosters discussion and brings people of many different ages and backgrounds to the site.

8) Can Chicagoland Jewish High School finish #1 even without going to YU this year?
Absolutely. My North Shore team played them in the championship at the Memphis tournament early this season. They were missing a top player and even so, were as good as anyone. They are a well-coached and fundamentally sound team. And the kicker, they play harder than everyone. Those kids are committed to a way of playing that requires major conditioning and major heart. They are a terrific team.  I think there are a few teams that can compete with them. Shalhevet in CA is excellent and deep and has size. Frisch, north shore, MTA and Magen David from the Yeshiva League are all very strong as well.

9)Anything else you would like the TGR readers to know?
Sure. For those of you who have involvement in schools or athletic programs, I think it's extremely important that while everything must be kept in balance, especially with student athletes, I think it's important not to lose site of the tremendous value that comes with competing as a student athlete. The social and yes, academic value, that comes from being part of a team and representing your school is not only a real honor and privilege for those who have the opportunity, but a real and genuine way to help shape your future. 

I am an attorney at a real estate investment trust. I still remember what my current general counsel said to me during the interview process - he told me he could never put enough value on the level of competency at work that comes with having competed in high school or collegiate sports.  I hope that as parents, students and administrators, that we support our schools athletic programs and recognize their importance to the student athletes both for the present and the future.

Thank you to Elliot for the great interview and keeping an awesome site running. just ran a story on TGR (click HERE) and we want to thank JHA for giving us time and space as well.

Can't wait for Sarachek!
And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Edelman Jewish Update

For years now other Jewish sports writers have been objecting to my inclusion of Julian Edelman to the list of Jewish NFLers. Not because he is not Halahkically Jewish (which he is not) but because he doesn't consider himself Jewish or Jewish enough. While my own views of Jewish heritage aside, has always included stories on Halahkically Jewish Jews, Patrilineal decent Jews, and stories stemming from Israel or with Jewish themes. In 2009, I spoke with Julian Edelman's college roommate at Kent State, who confirmed Edelman's father is Jewish and Edelman considered himself Jewish (or at least half Jewish).

Recently I have been spending more time on Twitter (@TheGreatRabbino). I came across this photo below, twitted from Edelman himself to ESPN's Linda Cohn.

Not only is this from Edelman to Cohn (looking like Edelman lights Hanukkah candles) but he has another huge Hanukkiyah picture on his phone. Rarely, do you find full out non-Jews taking pictures of Haukkiyahs, tweeting them, then send to their Jewish friends Happy Hanukkah, and then the recipient tweeting same to you.

Proof is in the lights.

My verdict. Edelman still part Jewish.

And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine

Thursday, January 24, 2013

High School Rankings still has CJHS as the top team.

1.Chicagoland Jewish/Deerfield,IL (7).............14-2.
2.Shalhevet/Los Angeles, CA (2)...................13-1
3.Magen David/Brooklyn,NY...........................18-2.
4.Frisch/Paramus,NJ ................................19-3.
5.MTA/New York,NY....................................15-1..
6.North Shore HA/Great Neck,NY..................15-5.
7.Ramaz/New York,NY.................................12-4.
8.Milken/Los Angeles,CA................................13-3.
9.Jewish Day School/Rockville,MD..................10-2.
12.RASG Hebrew Academy/Miami Beach,FL....14-8.
13.Cooper Yeshiva/Memphis,TN......................10-3
14.Weinbaum Yeshiva/Boca Raton,FL..............9-10
15.New Community Jewish/Los Angeles,CA.....12-6.
16.YULA/Los Angeles,CA...............................9-10
17.Beren Academy/Houston,TX.......................7-5
19.Valley Torah/Valley Village,CA......................11-4.
20.Yavneh Academy/Dallas,TX...........................17-5
22.Heschel/New York,NY..................................12-5.
23.Jewish Day School/Denver,CO.......................5-2
24.JCHS of the Bay/San Francisco,CA..............8-5.

Yuri's Comeback

Yuri Foreman had a successful comeback won a unanimous decision this week beating Brandon Baue in Manhattan. HERE is some press from before the fight.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Braun Named to WBC USA Team


Congrats to Ryan Braun for being named to the USA WBC Team. What stinks is to know that guys like Ian Kinsler, Ike Davis, and Kevin Youkilis were so very close to representing Israel (if they wanted to).

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jewish Football Twitter Accounts

You may have heard that their are some faulty Twitter accounts going around. So here are some real ones to follow. Also, you can always check us out at @TheGreatRabbino (just sports) or @RabbiJeremyFine (Judaism and more).


@SageRosenfels18 - Former NFL Quarterback
@GeoffSchwartz76 - Vikings Offensive Lineman
@CoachTonyLevine - Houston Head Coach
@AntonioGaray71 - Chargers Defensive Lineman
@Goldberg - Former NFL Linebacker
@AdamPodlesh08 - Bears Punter
@ErikLorig - Bucs Fullback
@JeremyBloom11 - Former NFL Kick Returner

A Look at Jewish NFL Coaches

With the announcement of Marc Trestman as newest head coach of the Chicago Bears, TGR decided to look into former Jewish NFL coaches. We were able to identify 3 others (apparently only wikipedia has tackled this topic).

From 1961 to 1969 the New York (FOOTBALL) Giants were led by Allie Sherman. Sherman was NFL Coach of the Year in '61 and '62 finishing his NFL coaching career with a 63-59-4 record.

Sid Gillman, a legendary player in his own right, held two head coaching jobs. In 1970 and 1971 Gillman coached the San Diego Chargers and in 1973 and 1974 he ran the Houston Oilers.

Finally, the most famous coach was Marv Levy who coached the Kansas City Chiefs from 1978 to 1982 and most notably the Buffalo Bills from 1986 to 1997 losing four consecutive Super Bowls.

Trestman joins a short list but a well accomplished list. Here is hoping to success and a Bears Super Bowl!

And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Rabbi Jeremy Fine

Bears Nearing a Minyan

The Chicago Bears have hired Marc Trestman to replace Lovie Smith, as their next coach. Are the Bears  making a full minyan move (Gabe Carimi and Adam Podlesh)? Click HERE for more. We hope to have more soon.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Interview: Columbia's Rising Star Alex Rosenberg

As league play begins we caught up with Columbia's new rising star Alex Rosenberg. Only a sophomore, Rosenberg is providing his worth and this Lions team as a real shot at an Ivy League title and finished the preseason 8-6. Here is what Rosenberg has to say about his future, his team, and Crumbs cupcakes.

1) Tell TGR about yourself?
I am currently a sophomore at Columbia University. I am from Short Hills, New Jersey where I attended Millburn High school for four years and then went to prep school at Peddie for one year because I felt that I needed another year to improve my strength and get ready for college life. I am a very hard-working person who has high aspirations of being successful both on and off the court. Lastly, I am very close with my family, I am the second oldest of 4 siblings, whether it is my parents, sister and brothers, or cousins and I feed off of their support to drive myself to work hard. Going to school in New York City, I am very fortunate to be surrounded by my family.

2) When did you know you were ready for the NCAAs?
When I began high school, I dreamed of playing basketball on television and for a Division I program. I continued to work hard and after attending several AAU tournaments, I gained confidence, especially playing with and against many high-level players. I attended a tournament in Indiana going into my senior year where we played at Assembly Hall against Indiana Elite. I played against Cody Zeller and Marshall Plumlee and scored 15 points. After that game I felt that I belonged there and was beginning to prove myself.

3) What's it like having such a rigorous school schedule (Ivy League) and basketball schedule? Is it hard to balance?
Attending an Ivy League school is tough because no students, in particular athletes, receive special treatment from professors. Everyone is equal so I have to work as hard as any other student to receive good grades. Yet, basketball is extremely demanding and takes up a lot of my time. It is tough at first to manage both but Columbia teaches us about time management. I chose this school because I wanted to be challenged and I think that both our team and program are continuing to improve.

4) 8-6 record going into league play. Do the Lions have a shot at going to the tournament this year?
I definitely feel that the Lions have a shot at going into the tournament this year. We lost a few close games early on but I feel we have been improving and have been working diligently. We have a great mix of veterans and freshman that are talented and understand the magnitude of what it will take to win the Ivy League. We feel very confident going into every game and expect to win the Ivy League this year and prove where we are as a program.

5) You are only a sophomore and already third in team scoring, second in assists and rebounds. Where do you see yourself in regards to the team and its future?
I feel as if I am an essential part of this team that can help us be more versatile offensively and defensively. I have been trying to play within myself and do what this team needs me to do to succeed. As long as I am getting my teammates involved, then I will find opportunities to score and be a threat against opposing teams. Going forward, I am looking to take a major jump in my overall game and be a player who this team counts on to lead us to wins night in and night out. I want to become one of the leaders of this team and a role model for our younger players to strive to be great.

6) Who is the best player you have ever played against? What was that like?
The best player I ever played against was Kyrie Irving. I actually played with him for four years in AAU and we became very close, but I was able to go up against him in practice and it was a great test every time to measure where I stood as a player going against a future professional.

7) You plan on playing in the Maccabi games this coming summer. Has Israel played a large role in your life? Are you excited for the opportunity?
I am very excited to play for a second time in Israel. My first experience, four years ago was eye-opening. I am honored to represent my country in the Maccabi games and look forward to spending time in Israel because it is a great and historic country. This is actually going to be my fourth visit to Israel. I was there twice as a child when my father played basketball in the Maccabiah games. I have always loved visiting Israel and I am very comfortable with the people and the culture there. It is somewhere I would consider playing professionally at some point in my career after college.

8) What are your future goals?
I set very high goals for myself that I feel are attainable and can be achieved with hard work. I hope to play professionally in the NBA or overseas after I graduate. I want to work to reach my full potential and see how successful I can become playing basketball for a number of years to come. After basketball, I hope to become even more successful working in business.

9) Knowing the Upper West Side well would you say you eat more Koronets Pizza, Crumbs Cupcakes, or at Toms Restaurant?
That’s a tough question. Tom’s is great for breakfast or any time of the day and Koronets is great for a late night slice of pizza, but those who know me well, know that I love cupcakes and so I may have to go with Crumbs on this one.

Thank you to Alex for his time. He has lots of potential and we are rooting for him.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

No Green (or anyone else) in the HoF

Shawn Green came up (very) short in his attempt to make the Hall of Fame, finished with only two votes (0.4%) of the voting. Oddly enough no one else got in, in a year that was highly contested and controversial. This is only the 8th time in the history of the Hall of Fame in which no one was elected. To read more click HERE.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Where Should Casspi Land?

According to Omri Casspi has requested a trade (Click HERE for more). But where are some legitimate options of where he could land?

Brooklyn Nets - Nets are good but they do not have too much depth behind Gerald Wallace. Casspi gives them young legs off the bench. Also, I am sure New York would embrace the Israeli sensation.

San Antonio Spurs - The Spurs have a history of welcoming foreign players. They also have turned a good number of NBA regulars who are athletic, slash, and can shoot the 3 into NBA starters.

New Orleans Hornets - They are trying to start over, Casspi is too. He might be able to start for this team and have a chance of getting his minutes up like he desires.

Minnesota Timberwolves - Several of their wings have gone down due to injury (Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger). Casspi would give them a healthy option at Small Forward.

Toronto Raptors - Going over the boarder would bring some Toronto fans to come out and help them out. With Andrea Bargnani wanting out, maybe Casspi is a nice replacement.

Sacramento Kings - While this is the place he started and performed well. With Paul Westphal out, maybe Casspi can work his way back into the rotation.

Maccabi Tel Aviv - I know this isn't ideal for anyone (especially TGR), Maccabi would of course embrace his return and they would get an added boost in the Euroleague.

Where ever Casspi ends up, we will be watching. We just hope he gets some playing time soon.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wrapping Up the Jewish NFL Season

There are not too many great Jewish NFL moments to write about, the highlight being Adam Podlesh's 2-point conversion. Most of our great Jewish NFLers are Offensive Linemen (we are not complaining). Here is how everyone checked out.

The season began without David Binn, Sage Rosenfels, Kyle Kosier, Adam Goldberg, Igor Olshanksy, and Greg Camarillo on NFL rosters. Camarillo did find his way onto a team, signing with the New Orleans Saints during the season. he finished with 4 catches for 44 yards. 

Gabe Carimi was one of the bigger stories of the Jewish sports year, but unfortunately for being benched. The Bears OLine struggled and Carimi was a part of that. We are still big fans and hopefully with a healthy off-season he can come back better than ever.

Brian De La Puente had a nice season blocking for Drew Brees and a slew of RBs in New Orleans. He started all 16 games for the Saints.

Mitchell Schwartz, a top draft pick for the Browns, started as well. Looks like he and Trent Richardson were good finds for a struggling team.

Erik Lorig scored his first NFL touchdown. He started 7 games for the Bucs and had 12 receptions for 83 yards.

Antonio Garay had only one sack in his 16 games. He did however keep up his amusing Twitter account @antoniogaray71.

Julian Edelman (while I know some people hate that I include him) had 21 receptions for 235 yards and 3 TDs. He also continued to return some punts and kickoffs returning 1 punt for a TD. He ended the season on IR.

Taylor Mays played in all 16 games and should appear in the playoffs for the Bengals. He had 22 tackles.

Adam Podlesh had another solid season for the Bears. He averaged 42 yards per punt with 34 inside the 20. He also scored a nice 2 point conversion.

And we have decided to give Geoff Schwartz the TGR NFL Player of the Year Award. Granted Schwartz did NOT start on the Vikings OLine, he was a vital part of their blocking scheme. Which as we all know led the way for Adrian Peterson to have one of the greatest and historic seasons of all time. They protected Christian Ponder as well. Congrats the Schwartz.

Another bizarre year in the NFL. Keep an on eye on Mays and Schwartz in the playoffs.

And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy