“The nine members of the 1975–1976 Yeshiva University varsity basketball team attended their Jewish studies classes from nine to one, their secular classes from two to seven, practiced until ten, and went on to become doctors, dentists, or lawyers. The 1975 team’s daily schedule and accomplishments were not unique, but rather representative of the approximately six hundred players who for eighty-three years have worn the Yeshiva University blue and white uniform. . . “ “Why They Played,” Chapter 11? The stories and observations that follow describe what happens when Yeshiva players attempt to find time for everything: Torah study, secular knowledge, and athletic triumph. When Dr. Halpert scours the globe for good player-athletes who will lead the team to victory, he looks for athletic promise, but in searching for the best, he is cognizant that, in the final analysis, his team will be the YU team. He knows that the players must be the best—but also informed by values, Jewish values, universal values, and values touched by the breath of Torah. Rabbi Simcha Krauss Rabbi Emeritus Young Israel of Hillcrest “The passion is there because the game of basketball is that kind of game. Coach Halpert exemplifies that spirit because he can get excited—and if you don’t get excited, then the players won’t get excited. He is able to translate that feeling and inner love to the players.” Lou Carnesecca St. John’s University
Jonathan Halpert played college basketball for Yeshiva University’s legendary coach Red Sarachek from 1962 to 1966 and began his college coaching career in 1972. He was winner of the College Basketball Official’s Sportsmanship Award in 1980 and 1997, recipient of the Metropolitan Basketball Writer’s Good Guy Award in 1998, and was Skyline Conference Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2010. He is currently the longest-tenured college coach in New York City history, fourth among all currently active NCAA coaches. In 2012, he became the seventh coach in New York City history to earn 400 victories. He received a BA and BHL degree from Yeshiva College in 1966, an MA degree from New York University in 1967, and a PhD in Special Education from Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences in 1978. He is married to the former Aviva Margolis and has five children and nineteen grandchildren.