Raucous rivalry

Sasha Karasik, Reporter

Booming cheers echo across the Upper School gymnasium as both CESJDS varsity basketball teams secure wins in their first matchups of the season against Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy on Dec. 16, 2021. 

For as long as anyone can remember, JDS has been embroiled in a rivalry with the only other Jewish school in the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference (PVAC), Berman. The rivalry spreads across practically all athletics that both schools offer, but it is most prominent and intense during the basketball season. 

“It definitely goes across all sports,” Director of Athletics and girls varsity basketball coach Becky Silberman said. “Basketball is probably the biggest one because I think consistently both teams have been strong. Whereas I think in other sports, there’s always one team that’s clearly better, so it’s not as exciting.”

Silberman also believes that the rivalry is fueled by the friendships between Berman and JDS students. Since the schools are the only two Jewish teams in the league and some students in both schools come from the same communities, she feels that this is one of the main factors to the rivalry. 

Senior and girls varsity basketball co-captain Avital Friedman describes the rivalry between the two schools as really “fun” and “intense.” She considers the games against Berman more crucial than other ones. 

“I see them as more important because more people come to watch the games and it’s a better environment to play in,” Friedman said. “So not only is it important because we want to win for everybody who came and watched, but it’s also a big moment. Not many people come to our other games, but this is a game where everybody shows up.”

Senior and former Berman student Noah Hoch said that the atmosphere at Berman is more “crazy” and that they take the game way more seriously. 

“If you look at the livestream, their side is packed to the absolute brim,” Hoch said, “They always go all out. … They even have a pep rally before, and it’s insane.” 

However, the pandemic has had a big effect on the rivalry. Dean of Students Roslyn Landy believes the high-energy atmosphere surrounding the games is an important part of the rivalry and that COVID-19 harms school spirit.

“In the past, we had spirit week the week before the Berman game and everyone was really psyched and excited. In those years, the gym was packed with our fans and the spirit was really high.” Landy said. “…But it has been different in the last two years because of COVID. … Since students cannot go to the games, there is not the same energy and excitement as in the past.”

Friedman agrees with Landy and feels that COVID-19 has caused a lot of uncertainty in the games, as athletes can get sick at any moment and no longer be able to play or entire games can be canceled. Despite all the negatives though, Friedman was able to see a positive side to the effects of COVID-19.  

“I think for the girls especially, there was less of a crowd until the end of the game when it got closer to the boys game and people would start to show up,” Friedman said. “But then this year, just because it’s been so long and people were really missing the energy and a game in person, there was a huge turnout and people were really passionate. It really makes you take it less for granted, which is really nice.”

The JDS and Berman teams will meet again on Jan. 29 for another matchup.

“We think we’re the superior school; they think they’re the superior school,” Friedman said. “So clearly, it’s just something that’ll never die…”