Israel-Hamas war strikes near home for Yeshiva University players

  • Anthony Olivieri, ESPN.comOct 24, 2023, 12:00 PM ET NEW YORK CITY– Members of the Yeshiva University men’s basketball team stood in the dark along the standard of the school gym, awaiting the overhead lights to turn on so they might start practice. It was Monday, Oct. 9, two days after Hamas launched an unprecedented surprise attack by air, land and sea from Gaza on neighboring Israel, which consequently declared war.One of the players opened a prayer book and check out aloud in Hebrew a message frequently recited in support of Israeli soldiers and their safe return. Part of the passage he checked out: My help is from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth; He will not enable your foot to falter; Your Guardian will not slumber– Tehillim (psalms) 121.

    As they hoped on the court inside limit Stern Athletic Center’s basement fitness center at the private Orthodox Jewish school in upper Manhattan, 2 colleagues and their head coach weren’t yet home from Israel, where they had taken a trip for a Jewish holiday, Sukkot. That left 2 assistant coaches in charge of the impossible– focusing the players on practice drills and full-court scrimmages.Some formerly served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Lots of have liked ones, consisting of moms and dads, grandparents, cousins and buddies, in Israel. One lost a childhood buddy in the attack. A minimum of another understood someone he thought to be missing.Joseph Schwartz

    , a sixth-year assistant, was born in Israel and moved to New york city as a kid. He likewise was in Israel throughout the Oct. 7 attacks however had made it home. In addition to the prayer before practice, Schwartz spoke with the players, informing them basketball was trivial but might be therapeutic.Another assistant, Yoni Cohen, assists players with their academics and mental health. Considering that Oct. 7, he has actually been especially mindful of signing in with each, and says he’s been shocked at how well they have actually controlled their emotions. Yeshiva University guys’s basketball player Roy Itcovichi. Nick Laham for ESPN Every player on the Department III Maccabees ‘roster is Jewish, as are the school’s 2,200 undergrads on 4 campuses in New York, which has the biggest Jewish population of any city worldwide. The majority of the players are from the U.S., and 6 are Israeli. The school fields males’s and women’s sports teams, and the males’s basketball team drew national attention numerous years ago for its 50-game winning streak, which ended in late 2021. Last year, Yeshiva graduate Ryan Turell was selected in the NBA’s G League draft.With college basketball season opening and groups around the nation heading toward

    exhibitions and home openers, the Maccabees face a different kind of minute early in their season, as players attempt to find out how to stabilize their regular regimens of going to class or practice while likewise pertaining to terms with the realities of war.Several players wear kippahs(skullcaps ), and Yeshiva plays Israel’s nationwide anthem–” Hatikvah “– together with”The Star-Spangled

    Banner” before games. Amongst the Israelis on this year’s lineup is Adi Markovich, a 27-year-old senior guard. Markovich served in the IDF for 3 years, stationed at checkpoints in Jerusalem and other parts of the country, before he eventually landed at Yeshiva. For the Maccabees, he stated he takes seriously being a group leader. He likewise stated he needed to step up for his teammates mentally. Markovich comprehends since he’s going through it, too.Asked whether he remembered what Schwartz said because dark health club before practice, and how it felt then, Markovich was quiet.”I do not understand,”he states. “My mind was on other things.” Yeshiva University guys

    ‘s basketball player Dothan Bardichev. Nick Laham for ESPN AS OF

    LATE OCTOBER, the Hamas attacks left more than 1,400 dead, a minimum of 4,600 hurt

    and more than 200 imprisoned, according to the IDF. The Palestinian Health Ministry stated there are more than 5,000 dead and more than 15,000 hurt after Israel’s retaliation in Gaza, where there has actually been limited electrical power, food and fuel. The United Nations states more than 1 million Gaza citizens have actually been displaced, and there is a humanitarian crisis. Some aid deliveries have actually begun to get here through the border with Egypt, but aid employees characterize it as insufficient.Tensions have boiled over at protests and rallies, including on U.S. college schools.

    Columbia University, simply 4 miles from Yeshiva’s fitness center, near to the general public due to the fact that of contending demonstrations. While there’s dispute over the conflict– amongst those weighing in is Yeshiva coach Elliot Steinmetz, who disagreed on social media with U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri), who required a cease-fire– issues are growing on all sides over the prospect of a widening war.It’s a lot to digest for an university student. Dothan Bardichev, who was born in the United Kingdom, lived in Israel for a years through high school and concerned Yeshiva for academics and athletics. He was in Israel with family the day Hamas attacked, however he handled to discover a flight out that night. He struggled getting on an airplane back to New york city, leaving his moms and dads behind, in addition to his sister and her four children. Bardichev states that his family remains in Israel and is safe– however that a disabled neighbor was killed.Editor’s Picks 2 Associated “Class started, and the teacher starts discussing algorithms,”he recalled of the Wednesday after the attacks,”and my brain is completely … how can I speak about algorithms when children were …”He shook his head.Early some early mornings before practice, he contacts us to ensure his household is safe. His moms and dads were born in Israel, and he stated his paternal great-grandparents founded a moshav, an Israeli farming community.

    “… I’m fortunate, “he states.”I’m in New York. I’m safe. However hearing this is heartbreaking and it hits you anywhere. You can be in the middle of class and after that your thoughts go, and it’s how do I continue studying about algorithms while my pals are dying and risking their lives? “Bardichev, a sophomore majoring in computer technology, can’t serve in the military due to the fact that of a medical condition however states he’ll represent Yeshiva proudly on the court. He states that takes his mind far from the war. Still, it’s hard for him to weigh

    the importance of a game versus what’s taking place in your home. “This is a location we can speak about things,”Bardichev says.”And all our Israelis, we originate from various locations in Israel, and everybody can tell their story and sort of vent out. And it’s an excellent location to … talk with somebody who comprehends you better.

    ” Yeshiva University men’s basketball player Tom Beza. Nick Laham for ESPN FOR TOM BEZA, thoughts of war come throughout water breaks. Beza,a sophomore guard, stated he uses basketball to escape truth, getting immersed during practice like it’s a dream world. “It resembles my safe place, “he states.”Sometimes when I remain in the middle of a drill or something, I’m forgetting everything.

    It can be two minutes [off the court and it’s], Is everybody okay? What’s happening now?”He typically puts his phone someplace near the court throughout practice, if he can, so he can check the news. The day after Beza finished obligatory military

    service in Israel, where he had been for almost 3 years after high school, he took off for Yeshiva.Although Beza is no longer in the military, many of his liked ones are. His sis is a tank trainer. He fields calls from his heartbroken mom about her. Much of his friends, people he described as brothers, remain in battle positions.Being so far away from his family, Beza has actually developed a brand-new one at Yeshiva, where he leans specifically on his fellow Israelis. They discuss the war and its toll, and distract themselves with other subjects.”It’s like a support system, “he states. Yeshiva University guys’s basketball player Or Sundjyvsky. Nick Laham for ESPN FOR OR SUNDJYVSKY, ideas of his home nation come while he’s on the George Washington Bridge. In his first year at Yeshiva, he moved with his immediate household to Fair Yard, New Jersey, when his daddy’s job was moved eight years ago. Along with Markovich, who also lives in New Jersey, Sundjyvsky gets a ride to school over the bridge from Schwartz, the assistant coach.The three do not talk much in the early morning, but Schwartz checks in on the set’s well-being. Markovich, who has buddies in the army, was worried about their location when the war began. Sundjyvsky’s grandmother was residing in a big home by herself.” [My daddy] flew my granny to here,”Sundjyvsky says.”She landed a couple of days earlier. [She] didn’t feel really safe. “It’s the confluence of Sundjyvsky’s brand-new life in the U.S. and his old one in Israel. Among Sundjyvsky’s cousins was visiting from Israel, and they were at a movie theater in New Jersey to see”Oppenheimer,”

    a film about the advancement of the atomic bomb throughout The second world war. When they got back after the movie, their phones rose with notifies. After that, they couldn’t sleep.Sundjyvsky hasn’t been able to do much else however think about Israel. He stated he was in an organization class, multitasking. He kept in mind as the teacher spoke and kept one eye on his laptop computer for news, waiting for updates on potential captive releases. He kept his phone’s ringer on in case of an emergency or an urgent message in his family’s 25-person group chat. The constant worry isn’t healthy, but he has a strategy.”[ I try] to speak to my parents and my colleagues as much as I can about it to see what they’re seeing in their side to make certain I see the entire photo and not just what I see on social networks and what my moms and dads are informing me or see

    on the news. “You have to talk since you can’t let it stay in your stomach,” he says.”It’s going to blow.” Yeshiva University guys’s basketball player Adi Markovich tries a shot versus protector Roy Itcovichi. Nick Laham for ESPN JOSEPH SULTAN THINKS of Israel when he believes

    of his youth buddy. Sultan, a junior forward from Brooklyn, went to school with Ariel Eliyahu from pre-kindergarten till 5th grade, when Eliyahu and his family moved back to Israel. Eliyahu’s father was Sultan’s rabbi. Sultan and Eliyahu remained in contact as best they could. When Sultan went to Israel to study, he went to Eliyahu’s house for Shabbat.Sultan stated that Eliyahu was eliminated on the first day of the attacks while serving in the IDF. “Might his memory be a blessing, “Sultan says.Sultan and his household received the news from a household buddy, who checked out in person throughout the holiday, when they were disconnected from innovation. Sultan was overcome with feeling. The school they had actually participated in held a memorial. Sultan has actually had to stabilize mourning his good friend with worrying about enjoyed ones– 2 other friends and a rabbi– who are currently serving.Sultan states his teammates consult each other, even if they do not talk in depth about their feelings. They all know the rigors of being a trainee at Yeshiva, where an athlete’s day can start at 6 a.m. and end at 7 p.m.– with practice, prayer, Jewish studies and other classes. After his good friend’s death,

    Sultan missed out on the very first three days of practice, acknowledging that he needed a psychological break. His coaches comprehended.”I’m very grateful, actually, for the understanding of Yeshiva University, and a lot of the professors, “Sultan states.” They resolved the scenario. We had numerous events here. They made the shift simple, and they’re using a ton of assistance to students who are having a hard time,

    so I think that’s amazing on their part. “Personally, you have to move on, not move on. Remember everything, and keep everyone in mind, however life moves forward. ” Yeshiva University males’s basketball coach Elliot Steinmetz, center, speaks with player Or Sundjyvsky, ideal pointing. Nick Laham for ESPN ELEVEN DAYS AFTER the attacks started, the lights were onand Coach Steinmetz was back. He strolled into the health club for a 6 a.m. practice. He had actually been home for about a week, flying from Israel to Greece to Newark, New Jersey, then taking an Uber home.Steinmetz says he wasn’t himself. Days previously, he was in a Jerusalem synagogue when sirens went off several times– requiring him into the safety of a stairwell. He heard explosions overhead. The service was canceled while in progress. When he arrived at the apartment where he was staying with family, he went to the roofing system with his daughter to view the residues of missiles obstructed by Iron Dome, Israel’s air defense system. Steinmetz’s 17-year-old child, in a gap year between high school and college, stays in Israel.Steinmetz wondered how he could transition from sirens and rockets to X’s and O’s.”When I got [back with Yeshiva’s basketball team], we called everyone together, “Steinmetz states,” and the first thing I stated is

    ,’Hey, I do not even want to be here right now, guys. I want to be with all you, however I do not want to be

    on a basketball court. “However he went, in Tee shirts and sweats, and fell under a rhythm of pointing and clapping and trying to make it look normal. His players swung the ball around the border, advised not to attempt a shot, as their colleagues practiced defensive rotations and closeouts.When a 5-on-5 scrimmage began, players attempted layups and 3-pointers on the basket on the far end of the court, behind which there’s a framed jersey with”Tree of Life “and a No. 11 on the back. It is in memory of the 11 people eliminated in 2018 at a synagogue in Pittsburgh– a tip of how

    the sensations being processed by the Maccabees in this health club are not new. Throughout the street from the athletic building stood numerous uniformed NYPD officers, an increased existence obvious to several coaches and players. Yeshiva University males’s basketball player Adi Markovich. Nick Laham for ESPN LATER THAT AFTERNOON, a” Stand With Palestine”rally was to be hung on Fifth Avenue in between 34th and 35th Streets, near among Yeshiva’s four schools. As the week went on, there were other presentations in New York City that railed against Israel’s vindictive battle of Gaza and U.S. assistance of Israel, while pro-Israel rallies in the city decried the Oct. 7 attacks and called for decisive action against Hamas.Amid this, Yeshiva is about to open its season. The Maccabees have 2 scheduled skirmishes before their regular-season opener Nov. 8 at the University of St. Joseph. Steinmetz has stated he prepares to offer this season more significance than wins and losses, perhaps through donations to the IDF or by bringing Israeli high schoolers to play in the U.S.But what’s to come is unknown. Markovich and Beza,

    who currently have actually served in the army, want to return if called. Beza contacted his leaders to see if they needed him.”Some things are larger than basketball,”he said.Bardichev does not expect to serve. Sundjyvsky and forward Roy Itcovichi came to the United States for high school, which suggests they might be eligible for a deferment while living abroad. Itcovichi was in Israel, at his mother’s home near the airport, on Oct. 7. He heard sirens in the distance. Itcovichi was supposed to fly home that night, into the next day, but could not leave for another week.He said the

    streets of Tel Aviv were empty. It made him unfortunate.

    Psychologically, he said, it’s really draining. He does not go to Israel often and doesn’t wish to see his nation in this manner. And there’s something else: When he left for New york city, his mom’s emotional bye-bye wasn’t uncommon. But his dad? He’s usually stoic. This time, it was various.

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