January 7, 2018

Fighting Terrorism in a Democracy

Theo Deitz-Green ‘19, Nina Robins ‘19 and Jacob Bier ‘19


Perhaps one of the greatest civic debates of the past few centuries has been over how a government can both preserve individual liberties and ensure the security of its citizens. In an era of expanding terrorism around the world, finding the balance between these two competing needs is both crucially important and deeply challenging.
In large part because of the rise of ISIS, the world has seen a major increase in terrorist attacks and in particular, of “lone wolf” attacks. Lone wolf attacks, or attacks involving one person acting alone with no support of a larger terrorist organization, present a uniquely difficult task: security forces must detect a potential threat based only on the actions of a single actor.
Therefore, in order to identify and prevent all possible lone wolf terrorist attacks, law enforcement agencies must monitor every person who poses any level of security threat, a task that is nearly impossible given the sheer number of people who fit into this category. Even if this could somehow be accomplished, there would still be the possibility that some people who have given law enforcement agencies no signs that they pose a threat might slip through the cracks.
Unsurprisingly, under such difficult circumstances, there have been failures in lone wolf attack prevention, seen in shootings and bombings across the world in devastatingly deadly and effective attacks.
In the eyes of many high-level law enforcement and security specialists around the world, the biggest obstacle in the path to effectively protecting the public from these horrific attacks is the notion that democratic ideals cannot be compromised for the sake of safety.
This idea was seen in the battle to end the NSA wiretapping program, which provided the NSA with an effective means of monitoring the activity of suspected terrorists and stopping attacks before they could occur, but also seemed to strip people of the rights to privacy on phones. It is also seen in the debate over torture practices in the United States and around the world, which have the potential to acquire information crucial to the security of the public but are also deeply unethical and against the democratic ideal that there should be no “cruel and unusual punishment.”
To some, including Major-General Avshalom Peled, Commander of Israeli National Police Academy and Colonel Richard Kemp, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, the issue is deeper than just a basic divide between the ideals liberty and security; it is the question of whether or not a country fighting terrorism must hold itself to democratic principles while fighting terrorists that it holds itself to in running its own country. They believe that the difficult answer is no.
Kemp explained that there are currently believed to be 30,000 people suspected of being involved in Jihad living in the United Kingdom, including 3,000 who are thought to pose an imminent threat. This number, Kemp argues, is so large that as the situation stands right now, it is not possible for the U.K. to prevent an attack indefinitely.   
Therefore, Kemp, based on the assumption that lone wolves have in common a connection to Islamic extremism fostered in the middle east, proposes that the U.K. stop allowing people coming from specific Middle Eastern areas into the country, deport non-citizens, and apprehend people in the U.K. suspected of being terrorists, even if there is no evidence to support any case against them.   
Putting aside the valid and crucially important questions about the accuracy of Kemp’s assumption about the fundamental connection between lone wolf terrorism and Islamic extremism, these proposals would clearly violate the ideals of due process and equal protection of law inherent to a democracy, not to mention that they would pose significant ethical questions. Kemp acknowledges as much.
In fact, he agrees that it is difficult to propose turning away refugees from the middle east in dire conditions and severe danger just for the protection of the people already living in the United Kingdom.
Kemp said it is “hard to say that you [should] stop people who are in desperation [from entering the country].” However, he believes that “the government's priority should be the security of its own people.”
Peled agrees with Kemp’s general assessment of the need to carry out certain undemocratic actions. He cites as an example of this an Israeli policy under which Israeli security officials are able to arrest and hold arabs/muslims who are considered to be lone wolf threats for up to six months in prison without providing any evidence at all.
This, an actual policy that has been enacted as opposed to Kemp’s theoretical ideas, serves as an actual example of a democracy stripping away due process and targeting specific groups of people based on generalizations about the group to which they belong.
However, Peled, who also believes that Arabs and Muslims pose a more significant threat than people of other ethnicities and religions, at least right now in Israel, believes that the benefit this provides outweighs what the program sacrifices.
In fact, he believes that more such programs are needed.
“Democracy fights terrorism with one arm tied behind [its] back.”
If democracies hope to protect their citizens, they must level the playing field with extreme, but what Peled believes are necessary, measures like this one in order to be able to effectively fight terrorism.

Whether or not one agrees with these ideas, or even the beliefs that guide them, the ideas of Kemp, Peled, and other similar minded people will be extremely important in the continuation of the fight against terrorism and in the evolution of democracy. How these two seemingly irreconcilable ideals are balanced will determine much of the way life and liberty is viewed in the decades and centuries to come.

Give a Little, Gain a Little

Nina Robins ‘19

Nine months into Donald Trump’s presidency, the one clear policy of the administration is its willingness to rule with a heavy hand and its apparent desire to follow through on promises. However, in handling Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, Trump’s obstinence may prove catastrophic.
On November 16, the Trump administration announced that it would remove the office of the Palestinian Liberation Organization from Washington, D.C. According to Trump and his staff, this decision is in retaliation against the Palestinian Authority, which broke a U.S. law preventing it from pressing charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court. Before the PLO office is shut down, the U.S. has a 90 day period to determine if the Palestinians are making a satisfactory effort towards peace with Israel.
In response, the PA and PLO announced that they would freeze all diplomatic ties with the United States. Palestinian officials, including Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, believe that “by closing the office they are freezing all meetings and we are making that official.”
However, American officials believe that this move is not a total diplomatic halt. “In our view, communications are not frozen,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a recent briefing.
“We are not giving up on the plan for peace. We are not doing that,” Nauert noted. “You know how important that is to this administration.”
This obvious lack of communication between the U.S. and Palestinian leadership demonstrates Trump’s lack of understanding of foreign affairs and the PA and PLO’s unwillingness to negotiate for peace at the present time.
By choosing to close the PLO office in D.C., Trump assumes that Palestinian leaders have far more patience for the American government and a stronger desire to achieve peace with the Israelis than they actually do. The Palestinians’ rejection of multiple peace plans over the past two decades, most recently in 2014, shows that the current leaders have little interest in working with Israelis or Americans to achieve any diplomatic goals.
If Trump wants any hope of reconciliation with the Palestinians, or if he wants to be the ultimate negotiator of an Israeli-Palestinian peace, he must accept the fact that the PA and PLO do not completely accept his authority.

As damaging as it may be to the U.S.-Israel relationship and despite all of the flaws of Palestinian government and society, it is in Trump’s best interest to be lenient with the Palestinians and not to cut off any diplomatic ties. Maintaining positive relations with Palestinian leadership will ultimately allow Trump to help both sides achieve a peaceful two-state solution and an end to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

What is Governor-Elect Phil Murphy’s Plan for N.J.?

David Wingens ‘19

On November 7, 2017, in a nearly 14-point landslide, Democrat Phil Murphy was elected governor of New Jersey. Murphy’s large margin of victory seems to suggest a ringing endorsement of the sweeping, progressive platform on which he campaigned. However, Murphy’s large victory cannot be allowed to shield his policy proposals from scrutiny.
One of his major proposals is to establish a publicly owned state bank. Currently, New Jersey invests money collected from taxes and fees in private banks such as the Wall Street banks Murphy used to work for. The idea of a public bank would be to invest that money back into New Jersey instead.
While this may be a good idea in theory, as it has the potential to stimulate the New Jersey economy while still generating money for the state to use, there is no guarantee that this proposal would work as well as imagined because it is largely untested.
It is nearly impossible to use other states as a guide as the only other state with such a bank is North Dakota. North Dakota is America’s fourth least densely populated state, with a population of around 750,000, and about 90 percent of its land being used for agriculture.
New Jersey, on the other hand, is America’s most densely populated state, with roughly nine million people, and about 17 percent of its land is farmland. Therefore, New Jersey and North Dakota cannot be compared in any meaningful way. Despite the fact that North Dakota’s bank has been a modest success, it is entirely possible that in New Jersey, it would not work successfully.
Additionally, New Jersey has a history of political corruption, so putting politicians in charge of a bank that has free reign over large sums of money is a recipe for disaster and even more rampant political corruption.
This idea has been a cornerstone of Murphy’s economic policy, which is strange because there was no previous desire for a public bank and it is not an idea that is necessarily easy for voters to grasp and support. Murphy, however, swears by this plan and claims that it will reduce Wall Street’s influence on the average New Jerseyan.
So, while this plan does seem a little far-fetched for a state like New Jersey, if Murphy can manage to execute it in the proper manner, it seems like it has the potential to be a success of which other states could build.
Aside from the public bank, Murphy has backed many traditional left-wing policies such as increased regulations on gun sales and a higher minimum wage. Murphy and democrats in New Jersey’s state assembly recently vowed to increase the minimum wage to $15 while raising taxes on the rich.
Murphy has also taken a strong stance on immigration. He promised that if necessary, he would make New Jersey into a “sanctuary state.” Sanctuary cities are cities that do not fully cooperate with federal law authorities to enforce immigration laws and they have been a huge point of contention between Democrats and Republicans for the last few years. It would be a monumental political maneuver to make New Jersey into a sanctuary state and it would certainly anger President Donald Trump and Republicans around the country. But Murphy is not really worried about making Republicans mad, as he has clearly tried to position himself as the polar opposite of Trump and the nativism he engenders.
Perhaps the position for which Murphy has become most well-known is his belief that we should legalize marijuana. Marijuana has already been legalized in eight states and Washington, D.C., but it is too early to see the long term effects of legalization in those states and territory.
What is clear, is that the war on drugs, including marijuana, has been a factor in the mass incarceration of black and hispanic people in America. Statistics show that black and hispanic people are incarcerated at much higher rates than white people for drug related crimes despite the fact that white people are just as likely to sell or consume drugs. Legalizing marijuana would certainly be a win for social justice in New Jersey.
Of course, there would be dangers to marijuana legalization, but marijuana is not inherently more dangerous than alcohol, which has been legal since America’s founding, save 13 years in the early 20th century.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, as well as across America, there is a terrible epidemic of opioid addiction. This is not helped by mass incarceration of minorities for nonviolent marijuana-related offenses. Our resources would be much better spent dealing with opioids than marijuana.

Murphy’s election was largely a rebuke of President Trump and outgoing Governor Chris Christie, but that does not mean that Murphy does not have ideas of his own. Murphy plans to level the economic playing field in New Jersey, make New Jersey a safer place for immigrants and to try to begin to wind down the war on drugs, so that a more useful approach can be taken to the real issue of New Jersey’s opioid epidemic. Only time can tell how these policies will turn out, but Phil Murphy is bringing a progressive agenda back to New Jersey.

Schechter: Then and Now

Maddie Herman ‘19

Frizzy hair and acid-washed jeans cover the concrete blue and white hallways. Students in scrunched socks and oversized sweatshirts line their lockers awaiting their friends’ arrival. Conversations and laughter can be heard from down the hall and a feeling of familiarity fills the air. Suddenly, a bell sounds and students flood the halls, rushing to their first period class.
This was your reality as a GOA – then still Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union – in the 1980s.
SSDSEU/GOA has evolved in many ways over the last 30 years. While the school size has decreased, it has grown academically through an increased variety in its programming, especially regarding its experiential programming like shabbatons and trips, and its activities and clubs.
Many important and progressive changes were made when current Lower School Principal Carrie Siegel, herself a graduate of the class of 1992, was a student at SSDSEU.
“Extracurriculars are vastly different now in comparison to when I was a student,” she said.
She explained that during her time in high school, there was a particularly large transition in sports within the school. This occurred when SSDSEU left the Yeshiva League allowing Daphna Gold, a friend of Siegel’s, to play on the boy’s basketball team.
“[That was] a pretty big deal,” she noted.  
GOA students have certainly taken advantage of the school’s diverse programming in recent years. They participate in a wide range of activities, along with taking student leadership roles in a variety of clubs. Junior Stefanie Siegel expressed that a large reason she loves GOA is because of these opportunities.
“All of the clubs and opportunities offered have helped me find what I'm passionate about,” she said.
Although changes have occurred throughout the evolution of the school, many milestones remain as students’ favorite memories of high school, one monumental high school experience being the senior trip to Israel. Until 1992, SSDEU students participated in a joint five-month trip with the Charles. E Smith School. Students had many opportunities, from touring Israel’s landmarks to experiencing life on a kibbutz. This allowed them to go beyond their daily lives and truly immerse themselves in Israeli culture.
For many alumni, one of the most memorable parts of this experience was being given the opportunity to travel with their friends and teenagers their own age.  Mrs. Siegel remarked that traveling with another school was one of the best and most memorable parts of the trip.
“I think that was a real highlight for us,” she said, “meeting a whole new group of students who were just like us and living together in Israel.”
For Wendy Herman, class of ‘89, the Israel trip was also one of the most memorable experiences of high school.   
“The trip was an experience of a lifetime,” Herman said. “Besides the opportunity to become friends with students from Charles E Smith, I was able to form stronger bonds with the students in my own class.”
Siegel also noted how, even though the building, individual students and school name may have changed, the sense of family has remained intact.
“The best way to describe the atmosphere of SSDSEU/GOA when I was in high school is to call it family,” she said. “Everyone felt like family. My grade, the grades above and below me, the teachers. We were just one big family.”
Herman echoed this sentiment during her description of her high school experience.
“I made friendships for a lifetime and some of my dearest friends still today,” she added.
Many teachers who taught during the days of Schechter Cranford hold a sentimental feeling for GOA in their hearts. Sandy Pyonin, basketball coach and P.E. teacher has always had a love for the Schechter community.
“Everybody is family,”  he said. “We all care about the kids and all the kids care about the faculty.”
Even current students can’t help but acknowledge the familial quality.

“This school is special,” junior Alana Wernick said. “It offers a community beyond the hours of 8:30 to 4:00. These are the people who are there for you and will continue to be for your entire life.”

Friends From All Over: Mexico Exchange Trip

Sarah Cehelyk ‘18

On November 2, 2017, sophomore Spanish students embarked on an exciting journey to Mexico City, Mexico. Accompanied by chaperones Ms. Kay and Señor Meneses, the group boarded the plane at 7 a.m. and awaited their meeting with their exchange program partners. For the past three years, Golda Och Academy has offered this optional exchange program to Spanish students in order to gain a greater understanding of the culture.
While in Mexico, students had the opportunity to fully immerse themselves into the local lifestyle. Whether it be through the cuisine, rituals and traditions, or tourist sites, each student was able to connect to the country on their own level.
     For sophomore Ally Landau, the food was a very important part of the trip.
“I’ve never had such amazing tacos,” she commented.
For others, including sophomore Zece Brown, the group's visit to the Pyramids was an unforgettable experience.
“The view from the top was absolutely incredible and took my breath away,” he said.
For many students, the relationship formed with their Mexican partners was the most impactful aspect of the trip. Sophomore Amy Gaffen comments that she loved “meeting everyone in the program and sharing our cultures with one another.”
    In Mexico, students were able to immerse themselves in a diverse culture different from their own. Mia Harel expresses that “the trip helped me realize that even though we may live in different countries, we are actually very similar.”
Students who participated in the exchange program in years past also have extremely fond memories from the trip. Senior Lizzie Irwin says that the trip made her realize “that the world isn’t as big as it feels, especially when I have a group of friends that are so similar to mine at home.”
She remains in close contact with the friends that she was introduced to in 2015, especially her buddy Nicole Ellstein from CIM-ORT, the counterpart school in Mexico.
“Each and every one of the students who were involved in the exchange will always hold GOA close to our hearts,” Ellstein said. “Even after two years, most of us have kept in touch, making us closer than any of us thought to be possible.”
Mrs. Shapiro, the orchestrator of the exchange program, has enjoyed watching the positive effects that the trip has on students.
“It has enabled high school students and their families to be a part of a larger global experience and conversation,” she said, “and demonstrates to them that distance and geography is not an obstacle for relationship building.”

The students look forward to giving their buddies the same eye opening American experience this coming February.

GOA’s Smallest Group of Big Winners

Aaron Lavitsky ‘19

Winning several awards every year, GOA’s most successful club is a real life version of David and Goliath.
Model Congress Club was started at GOA five years ago by History teacher Mr. Ober. Ober, having been a lawyer before he became a teacher, was always interested in the ways the law works in this country.
“I was the Model Congress adviser at my last school,” Ober said. “What I saw in Model Congress was real-life experience in all areas that students take with them in their lives: interaction, how to disagree. It’s what students who I taught 15 years ago remember.”
GOA’s Model Congress Club participates annually in the New Jersey Model Congress competition. During the 2016-17 school year, around 240 students attended. That number jumped to around 500 this year.
“I think the increased number of students will definitely make it more challenging,” Josh Kalet, a junior member of the club said. “But, I feel strongly that our delegation will have no problem winning as much, if not more.”
Kalet’s assumption comes with good reason. Every year GOA’s Model Congress Club is one of the smallest delegations at NJMC, with some schools sending 30 to 40 students compared to GOA’s 15. Only six delegates are elected to each of the three party leaderships and only one member from each school is allowed to be a leader in a party.
This does not stop GOA’s delegation from winning; every year since Ober started the club, GOA has had at least one representative in party leadership. For the past two years, GOA has had one member in the leadership of all three parties, which is the maximum amount allowed.
“I think we are so successful because our students love and have fun thinking deeply about what they care about,” Ober said.  “I think we bring a sense of joy to debate.”
GOA’s club doesn’t just win positions in party leadership. The school’s NJMC delegation often wins awards for successful legislation and its students are recognized for being great debaters almost every year.
Last year, current GOA junior Theo Deitz-Green received the award for Most Outstanding Delegate. This is a very prestigious award that is only given to the few exceptional delegates in all of NJMC.
“Mr. Ober is a fantastic adviser,” Deitz-Green said. “He gives you the debate skills you need to succeed and shows you how to manipulate debate.”
Even with all the recognition it receives during its competitions, GOA’s Model Congress is still one of the smaller clubs in the school. It is often overshadowed by other similar clubs like Mock Trial and Model UN. For one of GOA’s most successful clubs, it rarely receives much recognition.
“Is it underappreciated? No. People know how well our students work and how well we do,” Ober said of his students. “I think that people could be more aware of it and we could be more heavily attended. We fly under the radar and are a little more underappreciated than Model UN.”
Ober always welcome new students to the club, as he believes that debating and the legislative process can be taught easily.
“I wish more students would join because they are welcome.”
No matter the size of the club or the competition, Model Congress will continue to succeed. And while the appeal of the club may not be widely know, Ober knows the value of his club.

“We’re almost an academic athletic team. It’s fun to compete. We’re a tight knit group and we support each other. Everybody enjoys it.”

The Ezekiel Elliott Saga and The NFL’s Ongoing Domestic Violence Problem

Etai Barash ‘18

Last February, the National Football League was once again embroiled in allegations of domestic violence with the accusation the Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott domestically abused his ex-girlfriend.
Elliot’s accuser alleges that the Pro Bowler was violent with her on multiple occasions, detailing injuries, events and the toxic relationship she had to endure. Elliott denies all physical allegations and claims that the two never dated, but admits there was a sexual relationship.
After investigating, the NFL concluded that Elliot had physically abused his accuser on at least three separate occasions, citing photographs, text messages and eyewitness accounts. The NFL then gave Elliott a six-game suspension on August 11, 2017. Four days later, the NFL Players Association appealed Elliott’s suspension and the back-and-forth drama began. For months, Elliot’s suspension appeared to be about to take effect, only to be pushed by court injunction.
Finally, on November 15, after a “practical assessment of the current legal landscape,” Elliott finally dropped his appeal and decided to sit out the next six games, making him eligible to return for the Cowboys final two regular season games, starting on December 24th.
Elliott’s dramatic battle over his suspension highlighted the challenges the league has faced regarding domestic violence. The NFL has the most domestic violence cases of all the major sports leagues in America and their handling of these situations has served only to heighten focus on this issue.
In 2014, it took the NFL over five months to suspend running back Ray Rice for just two games after video surfaced of Rice pulling his unconscious fiance out of an elevator. A month later, the public was provided with the whole video, which the NFL reportedly had the entire time, that showed Rice punching his fiance violently in the elevator. Only after vast public outcry did the NFL suspend Rice indefinitely. Rice would never be reinstated.
Similarly, kicker Josh Brown was suspended for just one game even though his wife alleged he had abused her more than 20 times. It took more than a year for the NFL to suspend Brown for just six additional games.
These are just a few cases of the NFL’s mishandling of players who commit domestic violence. Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, has often been inconsistent with the lengths of the suspensions he gives out. For example, Tom Brady got the same length suspension for deflating footballs as Brown did for repeatedly beating his wife over 20 times.
This inability to act swiftly and decisively continued into the Elliot case. It is important to gather the facts, but the NFL needs to be more definitive and fair in their punishments.
As the most popular and widely followed sports league, the NFL has a certain responsibility to set an example of decency and good character. If players are allowed to continue playing, having only been lightly punished, after domestically abusing their spouses, the NFL is sending the implicit message that this kind of behavior is tolerable.

Hopefully, the Elliot suspension will show the rest of the NFL that trying to evade suspensions by drawing out the legal process is ineffective while showing players that if they carry out these kinds of actions, they will be punished. Only then will the NFL send the message to America that domestic violence must never be allowed to persist.

FBI-Sized Cloud Hovers Over 2017-18 NCAA Basketball Season

Aaron Lavitsky ‘19

It has been two months since the FBI announced its investigation into one of the largest scandals to ever occur in any sport – and nobody is talking about it.
On September 26, federal prosecutors announced the arrest of 10 people, including four college basketball assistant coaches from USC, Arizona, Oklahoma State and Auburn. The investigation unearthed several cases of corruption in college basketball involving prized recruits and their relation to shoe companies that sponsor schools. These shoe companies, including Nike and Adidas, are alleged to have paid these recruits in order to sway them into committing to play for specific schools.
This is not the first time corruption has been discovered in college basketball. The NCAA has investigated several schools and the processes in which they entice recruits to come to their basketball programs. These methods have included paying a recruit’s family, promising them future apparel deals with big shoe companies and even bringing recruits to strip clubs when they come for college visits.
This, however, was the first time the FBI has been involved in any investigation. The investigation is still ongoing and prosecutors believe that this corruption runs deeper than just those arrested.
Noting that the FBI was “conducting interviews as [he] spoke, FBI prosecutor William Sweeney proclaimed that the FBI now has the “playbook” of corrupt college coaches and that the investigation is “ongoing.”
One of the college programs that was heavily involved in this scandal is Louisville. Louisville’s basketball program has been embroiled in scandals before, as it was one of the colleges that carried out the practice of taking potential recruits to strip clubs during their visits. The current scandal, however, far surpasses older ones in scope and severity.
Louisville, a school sponsored by Adidas, is now accused of funneling money from Adidas to five star recruit Brian Bowen. Adidas’ Head of Global Sports Marketing James Gatto was named as one of the 10 men who were arrested and it is believed that he authorized a $100,000 payment to Bowen’s family as part of a deal that resulted in Bowen’s commitment to Louisville. This left Louisville with no choice but to fire potential future Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.
This is by no means the only time large companies like Adidas or Nike have paid recruits to go to certain schools. It is, however, the first time these payments have been investigated as federal crimes rather than minor NCAA rule violations.
Nevertheless, with the college basketball season already started, talk of the scandal has died down.
On the weekend of October 25, Nike organized a large college basketball tournament in Portland, Oregon called the “PK80,” celebrating the 80th birthday of Nike’s founder, Phil Knight. Nike invited only schools it sponsors, and the tournament was certainly a moneymaker for the company.
During the tournament, top five recruit in the 2018 high school senior class, Bol Bol, son of former NBA center Manute Bol, committed to Oregon, a Nike school and Phil Knight’s alma mater. Many believe this is more than a coincidence, as it comes at such a convenient time for the company. Some suspect foul play and there have been suggestions that the FBI look into the legitimacy of his commitment.
FBI scandals aside, this should be a very exciting college basketball season. There are many exciting pro prospects and very talented incoming freshman partaking in the 2017-18 season.

Time will tell what more comes of the ongoing FBI investigation. Until it is closed for good, however, College Basketball will have a very large cloud looming over its head.

GOA Boys Basketball 2017-18 Season Preview

Jake Kroll ‘20

As the GOA boys basketball coaches and players have been preparing during the offseason, the 2017-18 basketball season is looking very promising. Just like every other season, both the players and their fellow students are very excited for what is in store for the Roadrunners’ current campaign.
With many returning seniors, including guards Alex Moskowitz, Aaron Perlstein, Elijah Tatel, Yoni Arieh and Matt Friedman, the team once again, has the potential to do very well. If Taitel and Pearlstein, who averaged 10.7 and 9.1 points per game last season, respectively,  continue scoring well, this team will be doing great. Taitel also is a phenomenal defender that averaged 1.6 steals per game.
Meanwhile, players like swingmen juniors Jamie Gutterman and Aaron Lavitsky and sophomores Ben Bargad and Ethan Landau are looking to see more minutes on the court this year and make an impact.
With the entire 2016-17 roster returning – except former center Ari Esrig, who graduated – the chemistry looks to be at a high point this season.
“Since we only lost one person,” Perlstein said, “the chemistry is going to be good.”
The Roadrunners are also boasting a few key additions to the roster, including sophomore guard Assaf Arieh and centers, senior Ethan Levy and sophomore Ethan Steinberg, who provide some much needed size and should tower over much of the competition at 6’6” and 6’3”, respectively.
“I’m glad to be a part of the varsity team,” Steinberg said. “I think I have something to prove this year.”
As for the coaching staff, GOA can still rely on coach Sandy Pyonin and Junior Varsity basketball coach, Mr. Kozar. The knowledge Pyonin and Kozar bring to their respective squads is invaluable and both know how to push their players.
“We have a very experienced and influential coaching staff,” Gutterman said.
Everybody – including the coaches – has high expectations for this team this season.
“I expect them to win and have fun,” Pyonin said.
After moving down a division when having a record of 6-13, this team is hungry for wins and looking to have a phenomenal season. According to Pearlstein, the outcome is already a foregone conclusion.

“We are winning this division.”

Aaron Gutterman: GOA’s Actor Extraordinaire

Josh Kalet ‘19

Many students are aware of freshman Aaron Gutterman’s humorous antics around GOA and his love for theater. But not every student knows how deep his love goes.
Gutterman is an active member of the arts at Golda Och Academy. He has participated in three of GOA’s musicals and has been a member of the choir for three years.
Gutterman’s activeness in the arts goes well beyond the doors of GOA. His love of musical performance began before coming to this school.
“I saw Shrek at my old high school and I was like, I could do that,” he said.
From then on, Gutterman’s love of musical theater has only grown, and he performs in more shows each year. This year alone he will be in three shows, the first of which is the Papermill Playhouse’s “Legally Blonde.”
Gutterman, who plays the role of Aaron Schultz in “Legally Blonde,” says that this show is “the most professional production I’ve been in. The work is hard and the hours are long, but it’s worth it in the end.”
In addition to acting in “Legally Blonde,” Gutterman is also currently rehearsing for GOA’s production of “Pippin,” in which he is in the ensemble and the understudy for Lewis, as well as a private production of William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” in which he plays King Duncan.
Although he loves being in all of these shows, Gutterman’s workload can be difficult to manage.
“I’m offstage for a good portion of ‘Legally Blonde,’ so I do [my work] then,” he said. “I also do it on the bus. For ‘Pippin,’ it’s a little easier because everybody understands what it’s like being in the show – the rehearsals aren’t too long.”
Tuesdays are easily the hardest days for Gutterman. After a two-to-three hour rehearsal of “Pippin,” he has just enough time to eat dinner before he is off to rehearsal for “Macbeth.”
While it can be hard at times, Gutterman says that when he manages his time correctly, the high school workload is not impossible to deal with. In future years, as the workload increases, Gutterman says that he probably will not be able to take three shows at once.
“Two at a time is the maximum,” he said, “but that’s even pushing it.”

For many high schoolers his age, performing in so many shows at once would be far too stressful and time consuming to be enjoyable. For Gutterman, the stress and time consumption does not have a negative effect on his view of theater. Rather, he says, it is all worth it because theater “makes you forget about everything else.”

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