Dec 16, 2005 — It was a bittersweet occasion. But more sweet than bitter. The first-ever reunion of men’s basketball alumni attracted more than 30 former players Dec. 14 and was marked by broad smiles of recognition and good memories, pats on the back, and bear hugs. The event also honored the memory of beloved former basketball coach Bernard “Red” Sarachek, who passed away in November at age 93.
The gathering, conceived by current and longtime YU basketball coach Jonathan Halpert, reunited cagers from the 1940s up until 2001. The event was sponsored by Yeshiva College.
Anyone attending the occasion witnessed real camaraderie among this band of brothers, many of whom were coached by Red Sarachek. A special tribute was paid to Coach Sarachek at the reunion dinner in Weissberg Commons and later during halftime of the regular-season game between the current YU Maccabees and conference rival Mt. St. Vincent. YU won the game 76-54.
During the reunion, Elihu Levine, YC ’54, who has lived in Israel for many years, described a side of Coach Sarachek that Elihu said few people probably knew.
“Whenever there was a terrorist attack in Israel, Red would call and say, ‘Eli, are you okay? Are your kids okay?’ That’s the kind of person Red was,” Mr. Levine said.
Sarachek coached and served as athletic director at YU from 1942-43 and then again from 1945-1969. To read more about coach Sarachek, please click here.
More than 30 former basketball players attended the reunion, which was open to other alumni and attracted 63 grads. Spouses and children put total attendees at close to 100. The oldest basketball alumni was Donald Geller, ’49, and the youngest was Nachum Palefski, ’01.
Former brother basketball stars Lior Hod ’88 and Ayal Hod ’89 were on hand, as were three generations of the Orlian family: Mitchell, ’54, Moshe, ’86, and Moshe’s young son, Yosef, perhaps a future YU roundballer.
In addition to the tribute to Coach Sarachek, halftime also featured a special honor to members of the 1955-56 squad that recorded YU’s best single-season winning percentage to date with a record of 16-2.
Players on hand from the ’55-’56 team were: Irwin “Red” Blumenreich ’57, Herman Bursky ’59, Allan Helfer ’57, Barry Hochdorf ’57, Irving Listowsky ’57, Herbert Schlussel ’57, and Abraham Sodden ’56, who received a heartfelt standing ovation from the crowd and from this year’s team.
Two deceased members of the ’55-’56 team are Marvin Teicher and Norman Palefski, both of whom have family ties to YU. Mr. Teicher’s children attended YU, and Mr. Palefski, who died in a car accident in 1955 at age 18, had a brother, Paul, and three nephews who attended YU. One of those nephews is Nahum, the youngest basketball representative at the reunion.