Varsity basketball teams celebrate Jewish Heritage Night at Capital One Arena


Becky Silberman

Both the girls and boys varsity basketball teams participate in a practice on the Washington Wizards home court.

Harry Davidson and Max Schwartz

On Wednesday, the boys and girls varsity basketball teams traveled to Capital One Arena to celebrate the Washington Wizards’ Jewish Heritage Night. To participate in the festivities, the teams were invited for a practice on the court, followed by attending the Wizards game and a meet and greet with the only Israeli player in the NBA, Deni Avdija. 

A representative from the Wizards recently reached out to both CESJDS and Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy about potentially scrimmaging together on the Wizards’ court. The Berman varsity teams were unable to participate because they are on an Israel trip, but JDS chose to play individually. 

JDS players first arrived at the stadium in the early afternoon, and after warming up, they were coached in a two-hour practice by the Wizards’ youth coaches.

“After playing on the court and seeing how much space there is out there it makes you appreciate how hard it really is to play at such a high level and how good these guys are,” senior and boys varsity basketball player Ben Bass said.

After a break for dinner, the players went back to the stadium to watch the Wizards take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jewish Heritage Night. This night’s festivities included a halftime performance by the Yesodot Israeli Dance Group, an a cappella performance of the star-spangled banner by Temple Rodef Shalom and a meet and greet with Avdija after the game. 

“I think now more than ever it is important [for] our community to participate in the Jewish Heritage Night. First of all, the ability to show unity in numbers during a time when antisemitic occurrences are popping up all over the region is incredibly important,” Athletic Director and coach of the girls varsity basketball team Becky Silberman said. “Additionally, it was a great opportunity for all of our students but specifically our Israeli population to get out and support Deni Avdija.” 

Although the Wizards ended up losing, it was a fast-paced and high-scoring game that came right down to the final buzzer, as the Thunder hit a game-winning three-pointer with one second left. The JDS players enjoyed watching a professional game on the court they had just played on. 

“It was really surreal to be able to step onto the court for the first time,” senior and girls varsity player Elana Skolnick Einhorn said. “I’ve gone to a lot of Wizards games and I’ve watched all the players play on the court, so getting to practice there myself was really special and something I never thought I would do.”