Surprise: Yeshiva University’s Maccabees Have the Longest Winning Streak in the History of Men’s College Basketball

Since Elliot Steinmetz took over as the head basketball coach at Yeshiva University (YU)—a predominantly Orthodox school in Manhattan that offers rabbinic ordination along with conventional degrees—the team has won 69 percent of its games, with a record-making streak this season. Its best player, the six-foot-seven Ryan Turell, turned down athletic scholarships at schools with Division I teams so that he could continue his religious studies at YU; the NBA has nonetheless shown interest in him. Gary Belsky describes what makes the team unique:

Yeshiva’s subordination of athletics to almost everything else is unusual, even for a Division III school. “There’s no pressure from boosters on coaches,” the athletic director, Greg Fox, says. “There’s no pressure from coaches on professors or admissions. Zero. Student-athletes are expected to fulfill both their undergraduate Torah studies and general-studies class requirements.” Practice on most days is at 6 am, before morning prayer services. The result is a team of players who present as notably thoughtful and balanced, sometimes to an almost unbelievable extreme.

Gabriel Leifer, [another of the team’s star players], who’s all of twenty-two, is gearing up for his final season while navigating the demands of his second year of marriage, his first year of grad school, and the early months of a full-time job as a real-estate tax associate for the global consulting giant PwC.

Steinmetz knew all the obstacles and saw opportunity. “I thought if I could get top-level Orthodox kids to ‘stay home,’ [i.e., attend YU rather than a school with a Division I basketball team], we could build something great,” says the coach, whose team hasn’t had a losing season since he took over.

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More about: Modern Orthodoxy, Sports, Yeshiva University

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

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More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror