The past week saw the launch of season three for JYL, “Jewish Youth League of Queens,” where children learn to perfect their basketball skills while finding new ways to work in a team setting. With the pandemic restrictions now being eased, E-Squared was once again able to partner with local organizations to unite the Jewish youth of Queens. Once again, in partnership with Beth Gavriel Community Center, the renowned Chazaq Organization, Alliance of Bukharian Americans (ABA), and this season with a new affiliate, Rabbi Fitness, the boys are back, better than ever!

“After a nearly yearlong postponement due to the pandemic, the kids and their parents were eagerly awaiting some fun, healthy, wholesome activities,” said Rabbi Hershel Praeger, who now leads the program. Rabbi Praeger oversees the league and the coaching instruction of head coach Jake Ellis. “The boys are getting back to being kids,” said Ellis. “I am happy to again help the community build on their skills, while the boys grow in confidence and develop teamwork foundations.

Rabbi Praeger explained, “Friendly competition, being active, playing sports in an organized environment, learning sportsmanship are all key to having a great time.”

Baruch Hashem, the program has been warmly received by many parents, and there is interest in opening up a division for seventh and eighth grades after Pesach,” noted Rabbi Ilan Meirov, Director of Chazaq.

In the clinics held for the younger boys, techniques were built upon. The boys had a fun-filled day of dribbling, shooting, defense skills, and strength building, followed by game time to get all the athletes ready for the basketball season,” added Ellis.

One parent shared a story that brings home the need for such a league. “It is crucial that the boys in our community have a safe outlet to release their energy in building friendships.” She added one bit that literally brings chills: “There was a boy on my son’s opposing team, and he became religious from the interactions amongst the boys! Just by playing basketball, a boy from public school is now in yeshivah and fully religious, simply from bonding with my son!” She also pointed out that the academics were not a factor, but it was the friendship that was built that now has this Jewish boy attending Ezra Academy. “He liked how he was treated, and it ignited a spark in his neshamah. I am told he is even more religious now than my son.”

“It is of utmost importance to foster these relationships when the children are young, as it bring them closer to Hashem,” added Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, CEO of Chazaq.

The third and fourth graders meet Mondays at the Forest Hills Jewish Center and still have a few spots remaining. The fifth and sixth grade boys meet Wednesday evenings; their league is nearly full. On Sunday afternoons, Kindergarten through second grade meet at Yeshiva Sha’arei Zion in Forest Hills.

Please reach out to 516-331-0235 for more information or to register your son.