JDS sends varsity basketball teams to Toronto to compete in international tournament


Leah Rodin

Although grounded in Toronto, JDS athletes made light of the situation by building a snowman together.

Sasha Karasik, Reporter

Last week, the varsity girls and boys basketball teams traveled to Toronto, Canada to compete in the 2023 Israel Becker International Invitational Basketball Tournament, hosted at the Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto. The tournament consisted of basketball teams from Jewish day schools across Toronto, Montreal, Baltimore, Rockville and even Israel. 

“We’ve been looking forward to it for a while now,” junior and captain of the girls varsity team Shani Schwartz said. “It’s been canceled the past few years so I was very excited and happy to be able to go.”

Both CESJDS varsity basketball teams made it to the final round of the tournament, but neither was able to snag the championship title. The varsity girls team played a total of six games and the boys team played a total of seven.

“I thought it was a pretty cool opportunity,” junior Andrew Lefkowitz said. “I’ve never been on a trip like this for school, for basketball, and it was really fun getting to play against Jews from Israel and Canada.”

During their stay in Canada, the basketball players stayed with host families and got acquainted with the Jewish teens they were competing against. 

“We were able to get really close with the girls from Beth Tfiloh,” Schwartz said. “We went to their games and cheered them on a lot and they would come to our games and cheer us on a lot, which was really cool. They’re going to come to the championship if we play Berman.”

Although this trip was for a basketball tournament, the JDS athletes also got to explore more of Toronto during this trip. Some athletes were able to go to downtown Toronto and others took part in local fun festivities. 

“We all went bowling together,” director of athletics and coach of the girls varsity basketball team Becky Silberman said. “They mixed up the lanes for us so people would have to mingle. At first, everyone was a little hesitant, but by the end of the night everyone was hanging out and making friends.”

As the athletes said goodbye to a new city and new friends, weather related issues arose which prevented them from coming home on time. The players’ first flight was canceled and moved to the next day, where it was delayed several times, leaving the players stranded in the Toronto Pearson airport for over ten hours. 

“It was horrible,” Lefkowitz said. “I am never going to fly Air Canada again in my life…I actually had my own separate flight booked that I was about to go on by myself because I was not going to wait there another night.”

While some found the never-ending delays dreadful, others were able to make light of the situation. 

“Personally, I had fun,” Schwartz said. “I thought that the whole thing— obviously it was stressful— but we were making the most of it and we were having fun in the airport and doing all that we could. We had a lot of time together as a team which was nice.”