February 25, 2016

(Winter) Break It Down

Sarah Cehelyk ‘18

Many GOA students use winter break as a time to relax, rejuvenate and spend quality time with family and friends. While some go away on exciting vacations, others stay at home and catch up on sleep. A handful of GOA students were asked what their favorite part of their 2015 winter break was.

"This winter break, I went to Florida and stayed at my uncle's house. I really liked swimming in my uncle's pool with my dad and brother!"
-Emma Weiss '17

"My favorite part of winter break was being able to sleep and take a break from the school work that I'm usually overwhelmed with. After coming back from winter break, I feel relaxed and ready to take on the next portion of the year."
-Alissa Lampert '18

"I went to go see School of Rock on Broadway with my family. It was so much fun!"
-Itai Rekem '19

“This winter break, I went to London to go see my family. The highlight of the trip was making a music video with my little cousins. It’s always fun to act like a little kid again!”
-Hannah Greenwald ‘16

"This winter break I went to see a Broadway show and spent time with friends. I wasn't thinking about school assignments which allowed me to feel more relaxed."
-Mathan Poller '17

"My family usually chickens out of going on vacations during the breaks and we normally stay at home or go to Ohio to visit my grandparents. This year, I convinced my parents that we should go on a real vacation because this would be our last opportunity before I leave for college. We travelled to Savannah, Georgia. My family and I were able to relax while visiting many popular sights and tourist attractions."
- Veronica Slater '16

"At the start of break, I went into New York City with my best friends to celebrate my 17th birthday. Then, I went to the USY International Convention where I saw many friends that I hadn't seen in months. It was nice catching up with them and meeting lots of new people!"
- Mikayla Talmud '17

"I traveled to Florida with my family and got to play volleyball at the home of the National Beach Volleyball Tournaments. It was an amazing opportunity that I will never forget."

-Noah Brown '18


Transforming the Trans Discussion

Alissa Lampert ‘18

The twenty-­first century has come with great leaps for transgender rights and awareness, but acceptance from all people is still out of reach.
The awareness for transgender people shot up in December 2014 with the suicide of trans girl Leelah Alcorn, whose suicide note was spread across social media and news outlets. It explained that the restrictions placed by her parents, which stopped her from being the person she truly was, caused a depression that led her to kill herself.
However, Alcorn’s story was only the first of an endless stream of reports of trans people choosing to end their lives or having their lives ended for them. The growing awareness of issues in the transgender community has since seen an increase in publicity and notoriety.
Although an effective method of raising awareness, publicizing the deaths cannot solve all of the problems trans people face. News outlets will often misgender the trans person, refuse to acknowledge that their death came about from a hate crime, or slander them in their newsfeed.
Although social media may just be a lighthearted way to communicate, it is also where the true facts about trans people’s deaths truly lie.
The impressive awareness on Twitter and other media outlets, however, has yet to show its face in schools. Schools rarely teach about other genders besides cisgender, where one’s gender identity matches their assigned sex, leaving students unaware of other genders. Children who grow up in stereotypically religious households may never learn about tolerance of transgender people and might grow up thinking being transgender is a sin.
At the end of November 2015, TIME Magazine reported that a Wisconsin school had cancelled a reading of a book about a transgender girl after backlash from conservative parents. The school had planned this reading to honor one of its own students who had come out as transgender. Because some scared parents did not want their children exposed to a life they did not agree with, these children may now grow up unaware, or potentially even biased against trans people.
Golda Och is a much more progressive school than this Wisconsin school, but it still has its own issues.
When questioned about how they felt regarding GOA’s teaching of acceptance, one student said that, although GOA tries to be open and accepting, there is ignorance in relation to other genders in school activities, such as how gym teachers split up fitness levels based on the assumed gender of a person, rather than skill.
However, the student also praised GOA’s attempts at raising awareness, saying, “Something positive about our school is that sometimes they actually try. Last year we had our Judaic study day and they actually had a full study for Leelah Alcorn. They did really well, besides the exclusion of nonbinary genders, but they explained transgenderism, Leelah's negative experience and how society is really a bad place for [transgender people] well.”
Sophomore Dina Doctoroff agreed with this view.
“They’re not even mentioning [nonbinary genders],” Doctoroff said. “I didn’t even know about other genders until a friend mentioned it.”
Other students echoed Doctoroff’s comments, saying that the main place they learned about other genders, including transgender people, was from the media, not school.
“In general, our school is open minded,” sophomore Liora Finkel said, “but has very little experience regarding the LGBTQ+ community, so we would love to make everyone feel comfortable.”
Mr. Shapiro, the Head of School, feels that the school has seen a “tremendous amount of change” in the last 13 years in the area of gender identity and that it is an issue that falls in line with GOA’s mission as a Jewish day school.
“As a community, we need to understand nuances and practice what we preach,” he said. “The ultimate goal is school being as open and inclusive as possible.”
Shapiro’s words are not hollow, however, as they have been followed up with action. This school year, the guidance department has been to two conferences to discuss the topic and a delegation of students was sent to a separate event. The school is taking an initiative to further familiarize itself with the topic and become experienced.
Students and teachers alike are for promoting this issue’s awareness in the school and  upper school principal Ms. Stodolski could not agree more.
“From listening to conversations with guidance and Mr. Herskowitz,” she said, “I know that this is a school that wants to support the LGBT community.”
Stodolski specifically mentioned Keshet as a resource, as the organization works toward fostering equality and inclusion of LGBT youth in Jewish life. She also added that her time spent at Gan Academy in Waltham, MA and the Hudson School in Hoboken has provided her with somewhat of a frame of reference, as both schools strived to increase their support of LGBT students.
“[At the Hudson School] many students were out as homosexual, and as a result, there was a high level of comfort for all,” she said.
Shapiro and Stodolski are clearly a united front on this issue, and along with the guidance department and the support of the GOA student body, the way gender is discussed and viewed on campus should continue to evolve.

“Above everything else,” Shapiro said, “I want for every student to feel comfortable and accepted however they are or however they want to be seen.”


The Histadrut (Almost) Strikes Back

Kim Robins ‘17

Early in the morning on December 22, 2015, Israel narrowly averted what would have been a massive nationwide strike by public sector workers.
The Histadrut, Israel’s largest and most powerful labor union, had been planning the strike since last November. Only desperate last-­minute negotiations with Israel's Finance Ministry kept the country’s schools, airports, buses and other public services running.
The Histadrut originally demanded an 11 percent pay raise for all public sector workers, backdated to begin in January 2013. The Finance Ministry did not agree to this, since it would have perpetuated workers’ income inequality, cost the government billions of shekels and forced Israel to make cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.
According to the new agreement between the Histadrut and the Ministry, 15,000 public sector workers will be added to the government’s payroll and 30,000 more will see improvements in their working conditions. The two parties also agreed to raise public sector wages, but at different rates for low­-income and high-­income workers.
Despite the potentially dire consequences of the strike, most Israelis were not alarmed.
“I didn’t even know about the strike at first,” said Yael Gilad, a high school senior from Merchavim, Israel who visited GOA on the Neshama Yetera program last month.
“People in Israel talk about going on strike all of the time, but we knew that nothing would happen.”
Members of the Knesset, however, are frustrated by this constant economic threat.
“For the fourth time in just one year the Histadrut is threatening to use the power they have to shut down the economy,” said Likud Member of Knesset Sharren Haskel. “The situation in which Israel’s economy and citizens are hostage to the Histadrut’s strike threats is absurd.”
The almost­-strike reflects growing socioeconomic discontent in Israel, which is due in part to the heavy focus on security and defense issues in the current Knesset. Many Israelis struggle to make ends meet, as ­the cost of living in Israel, especially rent and income taxes, is very high and several protest movements over the last few years have demanded lower prices and more income equality. Israel’s underwhelming economic growth during the first half of this year only makes the problem worse.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon called the agreement with the Histadrut “historic” and very fortunate. By averting the strike, Israel prevented billions of shekels’ worth of financial loss and kept courts, hospitals, and other essential services running at full capacity. The threat of a strike, however, serves as a grim reminder that Israel’s economic problems are very present and not being solved effectively.

If the Finance Ministry is to appease unions and strikers in the long term, it will have to follow through on this new agreement and actively work to raise wages and lower the cost of living for all Israelis.


Rabbi Kavon’s Contribution to the Knesset

Sam Lurie ‘19

Rabbi Kavon is a common sight around the halls of Golda Och Academy, but many do not know that he taught a man who was almost prime minister of Israel.
This memorable teaching experience started 38 years ago when Kavon received a call from Dr. Gerson Cohen, the Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, to meet him in his office.
“I had no idea what it was about,” Rabbi Kavon said.
Cohen had received word that Isaac Herzog, the son of Chaim Herzog, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, was looking for an Arabic tutor. At the time, Herzog was a high school student at Ramaz in New York City, but wanted to take the Bagrut exams – an exam similar to the SAT – in Israel and needed to learn Arabic.
Cohen had known from previous meetings that Kavon knew Arabic and asked him if he would consider tutoring Herzog. Kavon accepted the offer and told Cohen that “It would be a challenge and an honor.”
After accepting, the teaching began. For security, the study session would have to meet in a different, secret location every time. These included Kavon’s house, Herzog’s classroom and the Herzog household.
Rabbi Kavon even had the opportunity to meet Chaim Herzog and his wife in their home which he called, “a special privilege.” As a thank you, Kavon was given autographed records of Chaim Herzog’s speeches at the UN.
“This wasn’t just any kid,” Kavon recalled about the younger Herzog and explained that he performed very well in the subject and was always very social, bright and full of energy.
After one year, the Herzogs moved back to Israel. Rabbi Kavon, however, never received word whether Herzog passed the exam.
Many years later, a friend remembered that Kavon taught Herzog and asked whether he passed. Determined to learn the answer, Kavon obtained Herzog’s e­mail and asked the question himself. A short time later, he received a response: Herzog had passed.
Now, Herzog is the chairman of the Labor Party and Opposition leader in the Knesset. Earlier this year, he was in a close race for prime minister with Benjamin Netanyahu.
Rabbi Kavon pointed out that knowing Arabic is essential for leaders of Israel as it is a vehicle to help resolve the current conflict.
“It’s my little contribution to the Israeli government and its success.”

Solving the Unsolvable

Theo Deitz­-Green ‘19

Conflict has long been a staple of the Middle East. Civil war, terrorist attacks, dictators and government coups are nothing unusual; however, one of the most enduring conflicts has been the Israeli­-Palestinian conflict.
With the future of the state of Israel on the line, emotions are running high about what must be done regarding the long-running conflict which has often been deemed “unsolvable.”
It is a deeply complex issue, but at its core is the idea that both Israelis and Palestinians believe that the land rightfully belongs to them.
Currently, the land of Israel is under the total control of the Israeli government. This angers many Palestinians because they feel that they are wrongly being kept from what they consider their land.
In 2005, the Israeli government withdrew from the Gaza strip, leaving it to the Palestinians. In 2006, Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by Israel and most of the Western world, was elected to lead Gaza.
Palestinians feel they have had to live in poor living conditions and are being oppressed at the hands of the Israeli government. In 2014, Palestinian Political Science professor Mhkaimar Abusada told the Times of Israel that “[Palestinians] are...angry at Israel…[for] destroying homes and killing civilians.”
Israelis feel that they have had to live in constant fear for their lives at the hands of Hamas. According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hamas is “an enemy [that] wants to destroy [Israel; that] remains committed to [its] obliteration.”
This has been a major issue of contention not only in the Middle East but also around the world, sparking fierce debate, protests and boycotts. Different people have different views as to what must be done.
Some, like freshman David Wingens, believe that the two-­state solution – the plan to divide the land of Israel into one state for Jews and one state for Palestinians – is the best course of action to take.
“[The two state solution] is the only way to attain peace,” said Wingens. “There is no perfect solution,” he added, “but this is the best chance we have.”
Others, like freshman Maya Wasserman, disagree. They think that it is too risky.
“I don’t believe we should have two states,” stated Wasserman. “Why should we try to reason with terrorists?”
Freshman Eitan Szteinbaum similarly opposed the two­-state solution, but for a different reason. He believes that the Jews should not give up land that he considers rightfully theirs.
“[Israel] is the Jewish homeland, ancestrally and historically,” Szteinbaum commented.
As this issue is one of such great importance and people feel so strongly about it, tensions are high whenever it is discussed.
Many find that it is simply too hard or risky for them to state their opinions because they fear they will be harassed by others who don’t share their opinions.
One high schooler, who wished to remain anonymous due to a fear of “backlash” simply pointed out that this is not a black-and-white issue and that “there are two sides to this situation.”
“I would be named on any other issue,” the student said, “but [on] this one specifically I [do not want to be named].”
This person certainly wasn’t alone. Several others asked to remain anonymous, citing similar fears.
Many people think that the lack of discussion about the conflict due to this fear is a major problem.
Sophomore Jordan Mayor thinks that people need to be able to talk about this issue in a reasonable and respectful way.
“The only way you are going to be able to get your opinion across is if you speak kindly…[and] listen [to what other people have to say].”
This is one of the most lasting and impactful conflicts in recent history and in order for it to be solved, people must change the way they talk about it. People must listen to what other people have to say and try to understand where they are coming from; they can’t simply dismiss someone who doesn’t share their views.
Much like Israelis and Palestinians, people must be willing to understand that other people’s opinions, though different, can also be valid and that just like the unnamed high schooler said, there are two sides to this situation.

Only then can the unsolvable be solved.


Spotlight on Israel: Aviela Dietch

Aryeh Lande ‘17

Last issue, The Flame looked closely at the far left of the Israeli political spectrum. This issue, we journey to the opposite end of the spectrum. Enter: Aviela Dietch.
Dietch, a mother of six, made Aliyah at age 20. Today, she lives on Migron, a community north of Jerusalem beyond the Green Line in the West Bank, which has a history of battling pro-Palestinian lobbying groups in the courts of Israel. Some would refer to Dietch, a Wisconsin native, as a settler, but she sees herself differently. She feels that Israel is the land of the Jews and it is within her rights and is even her duty to live where she does.
Growing up, Dietch was exposed to a very pro-Israel environment. Her family spoke about Israel fondly and her father was a supporter of the eccentric and infamously right wing Rav Meir Kahane. They did not, however, visit Israel in her childhood and Dietch, therefore, did not experience the country directly until the end of high school.
When she finally visited, she immediately fell in love. After studying at the University of Minnesota, Dietch made Aliyah. Originally, Dietch and her husband settled in a large, established community, but after some time disputes caused the family to move elsewhere. They chose to live in the relatively new Migron that was appealingly smaller. Also, Dietch believed she had the opportunity to be part of founding a community and shaping her future, so she became active in creating the settlement. Today, there are about 50 families living in the community.
The history of Migron is fascinating in itself. It was founded in 1999 after an archaeological dig brought people to the area and it slowly grew over time. In 2006, though, the government discreetly settled a highly-disputed court case and razed settlers´ houses in the middle of the night, because they were allegedly on Palestinian land.
“In 2006, a lawsuit was filed by Peace Now against Migron,” Dietch said. “[They] found the Jordanian land registries from 1960 and 1962 and called some of the traceable families from those parcels. Peace Now informed the [Palestinian] plaintiffs they were actually landowners of these pieces of land about which they hadn’t been informed before.
“In short, the plaintiffs, by straight legal grounds, had about as much claim to the land on which Migron sat as I would to a plot in Idaho, had my great grandfather signed up for a wagon train to the West, but missed the ride.”
It is important to note that, according to Haaretz, a well-known center-left Israeli newspaper, the buildings lacked the proper building permits needed and so they were technically illegal. In addition, Haaretz reports that government employees exploited their power to give subsidies to the people of Migron for building infrastructure. These latter claims, however, were disputed and never prosecuted as a result of a lack of evidence.
The result of this legal action was the forcible removal of houses, people and even government-subsidized infrastructure. As a result Dietch, resents the current government.
She feels as if her community had been betrayed, since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed to be pro-settlements. However, his administration evicted the residents from their purportedly legal housing.
Nevertheless, Dietch loves Israel. She treasures the Jewish State and cares deeply about it. Although she has her differences with the government, she continues to support the nation itself. Soon her son will be enlisted in the military, showing how committed she and her family are to the State of Israel.
Remarkably, despite the tensions, Dietch and her community have a good relationship with the Arabs and Palestinians in their neighborhood. Unfortunately, she does point out that outside forces have managed to stir trouble, but locally everything is largely peaceful. Dietch  continues to live in Israel, because she believes it is her duty to hold her head high and proclaim that Israel will remain a Jewish State. Through her presence in the West Bank, she believes she is staking her claim in the land and, through her actions, she molds Israel into a land her children can love.
Dietch truly embodies Zionism. Just like the previously-featured Jewish Voice for Peace activist, Ilana Rossoff, Dietch is devoted to making Israel a better place in her own way.

Hard To See, Rey’s Parentage and Snoke’s Identity Are

Sam Lurie ‘18
As Disney and Lucasfilm count the billions they are making on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” many fans are theorizing about the film’s many unanswered questions. Two of the films most prominent mysteries are the identities of Rey’s parents and that of the new villain, Supreme Leader Snoke.
I surveyed 15 “Star Wars” fans at Golda Och Academy on their ideas regarding these two questions. Please be aware that the remainder of this piece features major spoilers for the film.
On the issue of Rey’s parentage, the majority of those surveyed believed that Rey is the daughter of the original trilogy’s hero, Luke Skywalker. Among the reasons to support this particular theory is that it would be inconsistent to make “Star Wars” movies that are not about the Skywalker family. In addition, Luke’s facial expression at the end of the film appears as if he recognizes Rey. This idea is further bolstered with the official script stating that Luke “doesn’t need to ask who she is or what she is doing here.”
Another popular theory is that Rey is the granddaughter of Luke’s former master, and one of the heroes of the prequel trilogy, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Those surveyed said that we, the audience have no idea what has happened with Obi-Wan in between “Episode III” – the final episode of the prequel trilogy – and “Episode IV” – the first episode of the original trilogy – leaving room for the Jedi master to establish a family. They also mentioned how the scenes of Rey sneaking around Starkiller base are reminiscent of Obi-Wan sneaking around the Death Star in “Episode IV.”
One student brought up an interesting point regarding Rey’s accent. British actress Daisy Ridley, who portrays Rey, clearly speaks with her accent throughout the movie; however, John Boyega, who plays Finn, who is also British, speaks with an American accent. Ridley’s accent then must be significant, thereby tying her with another prominent figure with a British accent, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Less popular answers were Rey being unrelated to anyone audiences already know, being Han Solo and General (Princess) Leia’s daughter – thereby making her the sister of villain Kylo Ren – and Rey as a daughter or granddaughter to Emperor Palpatine. One rationale that was provided to support the Emperor theory noted that both Rey and the Emperor are obviously very strong in the force and Rey’s potential relationship to the Emperor would parallel Luke’s relationship to Darth Vader, the famous antagonist of the original trilogy.
As for Snoke’s identity, the two most popular answers were that Snoke is a completely new character or that Snoke is, in reality, Darth Plagueis. For the casual fan, Darth Plagueis is only briefly mentioned in “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” and was the Sith Lord who trained and was later killed by Darth Sidious, who masqueraded as Emperor Palpatine and was ultimately responsible for corrupting Anakin Skywalker and turning him into his apprentice, Darth Vader.
As to why they chose Plagueis, students answered that both Plagueis and Snoke are obviously evil and Snoke appears to have many scars, something he could have received from his encounter with Palpatine. As to how Plagueis might have survived, students pointed out that in “Episode III,” Palpatine says Plagueis was able to create life and prevent loved ones from dying.
Another unusual point was raised concerning this Darth Plagueis theory. Snoke’s theme in the soundtrack is almost identical to that which plays during the Darth Plagueis scene in “Episode III,” a track titled “Palpatine’s Teachings.” This would not be the first time that John Williams has placed a hidden message in his music.
During the last scene of “Episode I,” the upbeat, celebratory music titled “Augie’s Great Municipal Band” plays. However, if one slows the track down, one can see that it is really the Emperor’s theme played in a major key. This is a symbol that the real victory at the end of “Episode I” is not that of the citizens of Naboo, but that of Palpatine, as his plan for galactic domination is set into place.
A few students also said that Plagueis could be Palpatine himself. Also, taking from the idea that Siths can manipulate life, they say that Plaptaine may have survived his apparent death in “Episode VI.” Another says that Snoke could be a clone of Palpatine. This notion of Palpatine clones is widely explored in the “Star Wars Expanded Universe,” or “Star Wars Legends,” which is no longer considered canon.
One last interesting theory from students is that Snoke may be Jar Jar Binks. This idea came from a very popular internet fan theory that Jar Jar is a secret Sith Lord. As far as we know, Jar Jar is still alive, and if he is indeed a Sith, it would make perfect sense for him to be attempting to gain control.

While many may not be able to wait, these questions will probably remain unanswered until the release of “Episode VIII” in December 2017. Until then, let us hope that the force is strong in our patience.

Behind the Scenes of “Into the Woods”

Emily Saperstein ‘18

Over the weekend just before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, GOA put on its high school musical, “Into the Woods.” This musical reinterprets classic fairy tales, such as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, in twisted ways, some of which are very different in comparison with their original plots.
The first half of the show presents the individual stories of each character or group of characters. The stories are linked by the journey of the Baker and his Wife, searching for four objects: Cinderella’s shoe, Little Red Ridinghood’s cape, Rapunzel’s hair and Jack’s cow, all of which come together to help the duo break a spell laid on their house by a witch. The second act, however, takes a strikingly different turn, bringing all of the characters together to solve a major mutual problem. This section of the show is especially interesting because it reveals the somewhat unexpected complexity of each of the characters as they grapple with this issue.
“I don’t really like the overall plot of the show so much, but I do enjoy seeing the complexity of these famous fairytale characters unfold as the story develops,” said sophomore Lizzie Irwin, a cast member of the show. “It’s really cool to see these once-regarded two-dimensional characters of our childhood stories go through the same thought processes and experience the same emotions as any other human does.
“It makes the story much more relatable and something that we can each easily learn from.”
In addition to the performers and directors, the costume crew worked very hard to make beautiful clothing for the actors to wear. Creating costumes for a show with so many characters in this specific setting and time period can be very difficult, so this year the GOA arts department decided to hire a professional costume designer, Ms. Lauren McLoughlin.
McLoughlin’s presence helped create a different and exciting experience for both the cast and crew. Sophomore Carly Mast, a veteran member of GOA’s costume crew, enjoyed working with McLoughlin and was thrilled to see these professional, beautiful costumes slowly come to life.
“Working with a professional is really fun,” she said. “When we worked with Ms. Cohen last year for ‘Legally Blonde,’ we simply brainstormed ideas for the costumes and then headed to Amazon to buy the different pieces one by one. This year, we are actually seeing the costumes come to life starting right from the measurements thanks to Ms. McLoughlin’s great work.”
Creating the set for this show was also a very unique experience compared to previous years.
“This show in particular is sort of difficult and sort of simple because most of it takes place in the woods,” said sophomore Maya Freedman, who also worked on creating the set for “Legally Blonde” last year. “That means there won't be so many moving pieces on and off the stage which is helpful, but it's also pretty hard to actually create the woods and figure out what will work best for each specific scene.”
One of the most difficult jobs for the crew is managing props, especially in a show that requires a large amount. Junior Emma Weiss, the props master for “Into the Woods,” had a challenging, but enjoyable, experience working with the many props that are needed for the show.
“We have about 50 props in the show,” she said. “It's really complicated trying to keep track of where they all are all the time, who’s holding them and when they need to be moved, but at the same time it makes my job more interesting and keeps me on my toes. Having more props also means that I get to interact with the cast and other crew members more often which also makes work even more fun.”
Like Weiss, many students regard the connections that they make with their fellow cast and crew members while being a part of school shows are the best parts of the experience and the main reason why many continue being involved year after year.

Piazza’s Final MLB Road Trip... to Cooperstown

Etai Barash ‘18
Mike Piazza’s powerful, smooth swing enabled the right-handed catcher to strike fear into any pitcher he faced. The 62nd-round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers became a perennial All Star, with 10 Silver Slugger awards, 427 career home runs, a .308 batting average and a .545 slugging percentage.
“He is only one of two Mets in the Hall of Fame,” said junior Nadav Aronoff. “I think he was a great catcher and he really deserves [the induction].”
After catching behind the plate for the Dodgers and the then-Florida Marlins for seven seasons, Piazza was traded to the Mets in 1998, where he and his team flourished, leading the team to two consecutive playoff appearances from 1999-2000 and an appearance in the 2000 World Series.
Piazza never won a World Series ring, but he did win something much more lucrative: the hearts of New Yorkers and many other patriotic Americans.
Ten days after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, baseball resumed with a game at Shea Stadium, pitting the Mets against the Atlanta Braves on an emotional night for the entire United States.
Atlanta was leading 1-0 late in the ballgame, when Piazza stepped up to bat. Piazza smacked the second pitch her saw into the stands for a home run to give the Mets the lead.
It just made New Yorkers able to live again,” said avid Mets fan, Rabbi Mayer. “It gave us a sense that the world was going to be OK.
“And even though 15 years later, we are still dealing with terrorism in the U.S., the fact is we have survived, we can survive and we will continue on.”
Despite his post-9/11 heroics, Piazza played during the late 1990s to early 2000s, an era of the sport that was flooded with steroid use. Accusations were made toward Piazza on his use of steroids, but PED usage has never been proven. Still, many voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame were skeptical of the integrity of his statistics. Arguably for this reason alone, Piazza was denied admission to the Hall of Fame for his first three years of eligibility.
Then, on January 6, 2016, Piazza was voted in, receiving 83 percent of the eligible votes, easily surpassing the required 75 percent minimum. Piazza called the experience "incredibly special,” knowing that he is now among the legends of the game.
Baseball fans will probably never see another Mike Piazza because no one will be able to emulate what the Mets Hall of Fame inductee did.

Lively Road Crowd Powers Lady Roadrunners to Victory Over SSLI

Maya Wasserman ‘19
On Saturday December 12, 2015, the Roadrunners’ girls varsity basketball team traveled to Long Island’s Nassau County for the Inter­-Schechter double-header against Solomon Schechter Long Island with the main goal of winning. They planned on getting the bus soon after Havdallah, but left half an hour later than scheduled, due to traffic caused by a local Christmas tree lighting.
GOA fought hard in front of the many supporters in attendance, thanks to the sophomores who had just arrived from their Shabbaton. It was easily twice as loud as it would have been without them. The support was not in vain, as GOA came away with the victory.
Senior Leia Kessler provided much of the scoring punch for the Roadrunners, while junior Emily Binstein’s defense proved to be contagious.
Although it was an exhibition game and featured many familiar faces, SSLI was still rival territory and the physical gymnasium space reflected that. The Lions’ gym featured two levels: one with the court and bleachers and the other a balcony overlooking the court.
“[I felt] nervous,” said sophomore Maya Robins, “because the people on the top circle were watching us from above. This also made us excited because they were cheering very loudly.”
Despite playing for bragging rights, however, the experience meant more than winning to many of the players, including SSLI’s captain, Rachel Levy.
“I thought the game was really fun because we were playing people we knew from USY and camp,” Levy said. “It was a tough game since my team didn't play all that well, but overall it was a really cool experience.”
The Roadrunners acknowledged it was a great feeling to win, but it was a better feeling that the team traveled to Long Island to play with other Jewish teens. After all, GOA and SSLI share more than just a love of basketball; we share a love of community and Judaism.

Boys Basketball Rebounds Post-Slobodien Boo-Boo

Matt Nadel ‘17
The Golda Och Academy Roadrunners boys’ basketball team was right in the thick of things in the Super Essex Conference’s Freedom Division, when disaster struck.
In a crucial win over inter-conference rival Nutley, senior Harrison Slobodien punctured his lip, requiring 30 stitches and a place on the sidelines for at least three weeks. The team had to change its strategy completely heading into a game against Bard.
“We had to really step up on defense,” said senior Noah Susskind when asked about Slobodien’s absence. “We lost a lot of speed and we had to make it up with our aggressiveness on the defensive side of the ball.”
With that mindset, the Roadrunners soared right out of the gate en route to a 55-40 victory against Bard. They tallied 15 points in the first quarter, while Bard only put seven on the board. Susskind scored 13 of those 15 points – 33 of the team’s 55 total – and also managed to grab seven boards.
As the game progressed, GOA continued to capitalize on Bard’s mistakes, which ranged from numerous traveling calls to steals and blocks to fouling on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
“Every man knew where they needed to be,” explained sophomore Elijah Taitel. “Once [Bard] made a mistake we could pass to guys down the court for layups.”
After the first quarter of play, each team had committed zero fouls. However, the penalties started in the second and didn’t stop flowing. Combined, the teams totaled 24 fouls in the final three quarters and seven total players committed at least two fouls.
Despite the seemingly constant stoppage of time, the Roadrunners never let Bard take advantage of the few mistakes they made. GOA never trailed in the game and increased the difference between the two schools’ point totals every quarter.
Some other key contributors to the Roadrunners’ win included senior Matt Blum, who scored 11 points, and sophomore Alex Moskowitz added seven. Moskowitz and junior Ari Esrig led the team with three assists apiece and Esrig also led the team in rebounds with seven.
Unfortunately, the Roadrunners were unable to rally around their injured comrade for the remainder of the season, as GOA won four of its final 11 games, including a four-game skid between January 26 and February 2.
Slobodien, however, was on the court for his final game as a Roadrunner, adding five points in a 26-35 loss at conference leader Christ the King (9-2, 12-10). The Roadrunners kept things close for much of the game and went into the fourth quarter tied 19-19, but were outscored 7-16 in the final quarter. Slobodien’s fellow senior, Blum, scored a team-high 10 points in the loss, which dropped GOA to a record of 7-5 in conference play, 9-10 overall on the season.

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