Yeshiva University News » 2009 » February » 19

The action was fast and furious as a dozen teams vied for trophies at the 14th annual Henry Wittenberg Wresting Tournament.

Feb 19, 2009 — Though they wouldn’t be weighing in until the next morning, scores of eager high school wrestlers began arriving at Yeshiva University early on Thursday, Feb. 12, for the 14th annual Henry Wittenberg Wresting Tournament. Then, following a round of opening matches the next day, hundreds of wrestlers and their coaches were united for a special YU Shabbaton. Rested and champing at the bit, everyone was ready to roll by Sunday morning.

View a gallery of photos from the tournament.

The Henry Wittenberg tournament, named for the legendary Olympic medalist who once coached the Yeshiva College team, is the highlight of the yeshiva high school wrestling year. The competition this year was better than ever as returning champions and new faces met to square off for the final match this season.

By the time the finals were over on Monday and all the points were totaled up, Chicago’s Ida Crown Jewish Academy had taken its second First Place team trophy. But everyone there knew that the real victory went to YU’s head wrestling coach Neil Ellman ’68YC, who has put together the fastest growing athletic program in the yeshiva world.

“This was our biggest tournament ever,” said Ellman, who pioneered yeshiva high school wrestling. “Every year, we get a few dozen more wrestlers from all over the country.”

This year, teams came in by the busload from as far away as Atlanta and Cleveland—a dozen teams in all.

Coach Ellman, who wrestled under Wittenberg’s personal coaching, has had a hand in founding most of the current high school programs. Each year, another team or two emerges. “Wrestling is becoming increasingly popular in the high schools because the teams can handle many students,” Ellman said. “There are 14 different weight classes and nine of them are for kids too small to play basketball,” he adds with a grin.

Fourteen weight classes meant 14 first place winners at this year’s tournament, but the finals saw some impressive victories from Erez Kahan (119 lbs., three-time first place winner) and Yoni Kranzler (145 lbs., and son of Moshe Kranzler, director of admissions), both of the Frisch School in Paramus, NJ.


The appointment of Dr. Bruce Rapkin allows Einstein to better address community health and health disparities issues in the Bronx.

Feb 19, 2009 — A leading public health cancer researcher, Bruce Rapkin, Ph.D., has been appointed director of the Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Research (CPCR) Program at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s NCI-designated Cancer Center. Dr. Rapkin will also lead a new division of Einstein’s department of epidemiology and population health, to be named Community Collaboration and Implementation Science. The announcement was made by Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., The Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean at Einstein and I. David Goldman M.D., director of the Albert Einstein Cancer Center.

“The CPCR Program is intended to bring a vital new dimension to Einstein and, with Bruce’s vast experience, we will be positioned to successfully address community health and health disparities issues in the Bronx,” said Dr. Spiegel.

Dr. Goldman added, “The recruitment of Dr. Rapkin and his group, and the implementation of a cancer prevention and control program at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center, will lead to the development of new methodologies in the primary prevention and early detection of cancer in the Bronx population that can be extrapolated to other populations of similar need in this country.”

“Often in underserved communities, individuals are not aware of the full range of support services and treatment options available to them,” noted Dr. Rapkin, “A major goal of our CPCR program will be to address such disparities and eliminate them.”

“The outstanding patient care provided here at the Montefiore-Einstein Cancer Center will be greatly enhanced by the addition of Dr. Rapkin and his team,” said Steven M. Safyer, M.D., President and CEO, Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “With its focus on the diverse Bronx community, Dr. Rapkin’s cancer prevention program can influence the care we provide and advance the health of the communities we serve in partnership with Einstein. This is a very exciting development that will have a significant impact on cancer treatment services in the Bronx and beyond.”

In establishing the CPCR Program at Einstein – made possible by a generous $7 million gift from Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz – Dr. Rapkin plans to focus on six key areas of research. These include:
• Enhanced Support for Cancer Patients, Survivors and Family Members
• Tobacco Cessation, Cancer Prevention and Early Detection in Primary Care and Family Practice
• Adolescent Health and Primary Prevention
• Nutrition and Cancer
• Cancer Prevention and Control Interventions with Community-Based Organizations
• Cancer in the Broader Context of Chronic Disease Prevention and Management

Dr. Rapkin also plans to create a new Psycho-Oncology Translational Research Clinic and a postdoctoral training program. “The Psycho-Oncology Translational Research Clinic will enable us to carry out systematic research focused on the development of psychosocial, behavioral, and mind/body interventions for patients with cancer and their families,” said Dr. Rapkin. These would range from yoga, dance movement, and tai chi to meditation, writing, and creative arts interventions.

In implementing his plans for the program, Dr. Rapkin has recruited several members of his team from Memorial Sloan-Kettering to Einstein. These include:
• Elisa Weiss, Ph.D., a medical sociologist with expertise in community partnerships, is studying methods to promote community understanding and participation in cancer clinical trials.
• Hayley Thompson, Ph.D., a clinical health psychologist with expertise in group-based medical mistrust, is designing interventions for cancer survivors of specific ethnic and racial groups.
• David Lounsbury, Ph.D., a community psychologist with expertise in systems dynamics modeling, is developing new approaches to promote tobacco cessation and the improvement of service integration for cancer survivors.

“The recruitment of Bruce and his team is a very timely and important initiative,” said Dr. Thomas Rohan, professor and chair of epidemiology and population health. “Recent commentary within the field has noted that we need an in-depth understanding of the personal values, beliefs, preferences, and aspirations that drive behaviors in different social groups, in order to design interventions to modify deep-seated cultural norms and to challenge ingrained ambivalence. Much of what we do in epidemiology is designed to lead to the development of interventions that will reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality, and Bruce and his team will expand our capabilities in this arena, helping us to develop the right interventions and to implement them in appropriate ways.”

“Our program at Einstein and Montefiore will assume a position of national significance in developing and testing participatory intervention models, practice standards, and multi-level assessment models,” added Dr. Rapkin. “I’m excited to begin integrating our work that started at Sloan-Kettering with the impressive research, clinical, and community activities at Einstein, so that we can make a lasting, positive impact on the health of the Bronx community.”

Prior to his appointment at Einstein, Dr. Rapkin served as director of the Community Health and Health Disparities Laboratory at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), as well as attending psychologist in its psychiatry service. He had been at MSKCC since 1993, following six years on the faculty at New York University. Dr. Rapkin earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Rochester and his Ph.D. in clinical and community psychology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a resident of Hartsdale, NY.