Yeshiva University News » Lawrence Hajioff

Wittenberg Tournament Draws Hundreds for Competition and Camaraderie at YU

The basketball court of Yeshiva University’s Max Stern Athletic Center witnessed a transformation over Presidents Weekend as three regulation wrestling mats cordoned off with velvet rope dominated the floor. Excited crowds of high school students, parents and eager fans filled the room as they looked on during the annual Yeshiva University Henry Wittenberg Wrestling Tournament.

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This year’s tournament included 200 wrestlers from the wrestling teams of the Davis Renov Stahler High School, the Frisch School, Fuchs Mizrachi of Cleveland, Ida Crown Jewish Academy of Chicago (ICJA), Kushner Yeshiva High School, Maimonides School of Boston, The Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy/Yeshiva University High School for Boys (YUHSB), the New Community Jewish High School of Los Angeles, North Shore Hebrew Academy, JEC, SAR, Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC), Yeshiva Atlanta and Yeshiva Derech Hatorah.

ICJA enjoyed a repeat tournament win, earning the Chicago school victories in four of the last five tournaments. The Dominator Award and Most Outstanding Wrestler Award went to Yoni Sunshine from Fuchs Mizrachi. The Champion of Champions Award went to Dovid Greenfield of TABC and the Rookie Team Award went to SAR Coach Roni Simchi.

Now in its 17th year, the Wittenberg tournament has become a highlight for many yeshiva high school students around the country, not just for wrestling matches held over two days but also for the weekend-long festivities. All of the wrestlers participated in a Shabbaton officiated by Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff, instructor of Jewish studies at Stern College for Women.

Yonah Stromer, a junior at YUHSB and winner of the best in weight class, voiced the sentiments of many of his fellow athletes. “I think it’s great that Yeshiva University sponsors the Wittenberg Tournament,” said Stromer. “I love the intensity, competition and the camaraderie. The Shabbaton was a wonderful way to meet people from all over the country.”

Eitan Redlich, an ICJA senior, echoed the sentiment. “I love getting to know the other teams over Shabbat and then competing with them on the mat in a friendly way,” he said. “It is a great incentive to wrestle hard and test yourself to see how far you have come over the year.”

Ben Botwonick, a senior from Yeshiva Atlanta, especially appreciated the work that goes into the tournament. “It is an awesome weekend full of wrestling,” he said. “We do not have that opportunity otherwise. All of the tournaments in our area are on Shabbat so this gives us the opportunity to compete and see what we are really made of.”

It was not just the athletes who found value in the tournament; many parents exclaimed their pride in their children and schools for participating. Deva Zwelling came to New York from Chicago to see her son Jacob take part in winning ICJA’s championship. “It is unbelievable seeing so many Jewish kids so into wrestling,” she said. “This has been a great experience.”

Renee Freund was watching her son, Andy, wrestle. She was pleased that he took up the sport, saying that “he has never been more fit in his life.”

Melanie Santoriello of Riverdale saw another benefit in YU’s promoting wrestling among high school students. Her son, Gabriel, competed on the SAR team and after only one season of wrestling she has noticed that “the sport teaches about focusing and being in the moment. It has really helped my son focus in class,” she said.


Yeshiva University Faculty Present Alternative Super Bowl Halftime Show

The big game is right around the corner. Why not inject some spirituality into this year’s Super Bowl party? Join Rabbi Elly Allen, Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff and Dr. Yitzchak Schechter for a Torah alternative to the traditional halftime festivities.


On Super Bowl Sunday, February 5, viewers will be able to watch the dynamic faculty members of YU’s Basic Jewish Studies and Mechinah Programs discuss topics like “The Importance of Halftime” (Allen); “Hold the Wings: Maimonides on Physical Fitness” (Hajioff); and “The Ultimate Comeback” (Schechter), by logging onto DVDs can also be ordered in advance, free of charge, by visiting the Web site.


Yeshiva University Personalities to Speak Throughout Bergen County Community, November 11-12

The Teaneck and Bergenfield communities will host Yeshiva University visiting scholars over Shabbat, November 11-12, in various shuls around the community.

President Joel and Yeshiva University scholars will visit Teaneck Nov. 11-12

President Joel and Yeshiva University scholars will visit Teaneck Nov. 11-12

The Shabbaton—organized by YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) —will feature renowned Yeshiva personalities including President Richard M. Joel; Rabbi Kenneth Brander, David Mitzner Dean of CJF; Rabbi Ozer Glickman, RIETS rosh yeshiva; Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff, instructor of Judaic at Stern College for Women; Mrs. CB Neugroschl, head of school at Yeshiva University High School for Girls; Dr. Rona Novick, director of the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Doctoral Program at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education; Rabbi Hershel Schachter, RIETS rosh yeshiva; Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and Senior Scholar at the CJF; Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, vice provost for undergraduate education; Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky, director of YUConnects; and Rabbi Michael Taubes, Menahel, Yeshiva University High School for Boys.

“So many of our graduates hold leadership roles as the lay and klei kodesh of the Bergen County community institutions,” said Rabbi Brander, a Teaneck resident. “How appropriate it is to convene some of the leading Torah and academic talents of YU celebrating Yeshiva’s continued role in Teaneck’s spiritual development.”

Speakers will spend Shabbat rotating between Beth Aaron, Beth Abraham, Rinat Yisrael, Bnai Yeshurun, Keter Torah, Ahavat Shalom, Azrei Darom, Etz Chaim, Jewish Center of Teaneck, Beit Midrash of Bergenfield and Young Israel of Teaneck. The Shabbaton will also include an oneg for local high school students at Rinat Yisrael at 8:15 p.m. on Friday.

In addition, a YUConnects Teaneck Shabbaton is scheduled for the weekend of November 18-19 at Bnai Yeshurun.

For detailed schedule information or to learn how you can book a YU speaker in your community visit


Yeshiva University Scholars to Speak Throughout Los Angeles Community, March 4-5

The Los Angeles community will be hosting prominent Yeshiva University visiting scholars over Shabbat, March 4-5, in various shuls around the community. The Shabbaton—sponsored by YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) —will feature renowned personalities including President Richard Joel; Rabbi Kenneth Brander, David Mitzner Dean of CJF; Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff, instructor of Jewish studies at YU; Dr. Rona Novick, associate professor at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration; Rabbi Hershel Schachter, RIETS rosh yeshiva; and Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky, director of YUConnects.

“The thriving Jewish community of Los Angeles models many of Yeshiva University’s ideals,” said President Joel. “YU hopes to learn from its vitality and share with it the full gamut of our educational and inspirational resources in an attempt to better weave together the patchwork of Torah U’Madda communities around this country.”

Speakers will spend Shabbat rotating between various shuls in the Beverly Hills, Hancock Park and Valley neighborhoods. The weekend will also feature special programming with community high schools and performances by the Maccabeats, YU’s popular a capella group and recent YouTube sensation.

“Ever since I arrived in LA 25 years ago it has been one of my goals to make Yeshiva University’s presence felt both in my shul and the community,” said Rabbi Elazar Muskin, rabbi of Young Israel of Century City and a graduate of YU’s Yeshiva College, RIETS and Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. “Today some of our finest and most talented young men and women attend YU. I am delighted to see that we are finally able to bring some of their best spokespeople to LA for a Shabbat devoted to highlighting YU’s impact on Jewish life in America.”

To view the complete Shabbat schedule and for a list of participating shuls and high schools visit is