View from the President

Committed to keeping and
growing our basketball league

A message from Stuart Ratzan
President, Temple Beth Am

For over 44 years, Temple Beth Am basketball has been an institution in its own right. Initially crafted as a recreational league for temple members only, Beth Am basketball has grown into an overall community resource, inviting kids of every religion, ethnic group, race and nationality to participate. It is a great source of pride for our membership, but also a great opportunity for Beth Am to fulfill the Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) promise of “Audacious Hospitality.” Yes, something as simple, lighthearted and fun as a recreational basketball league can fulfill one of the lessons of Torah: to recognize that all of us are created in the image of G-d, regardless of who we are, what we look like and where we pray.

I have personally been involved in Beth Am basketball since I was a 10-year-old child, the year we opened the first gymnasium on the second floor of what is now the RAMBAM building. I learned the spirit of competition, sportsmanship, and teamwork along with some fundamentals about the sport. As a parent I have coached in the league, both girls and boys.

I love the league — how it brings our Beth Am community in contact and concert with the larger Miami community. I love how it nurtures kids athletically and emotionally. I love how it balances competition with fairness (e.g., no “double guarding” in rookie ball!) and how it remains committed to sportsmanship above all else.

I also love how it brings people together, people from the diverse fabric of Miami’s multicultural, cosmopolitan environment. I love how Beth Am basketball can make Miami feel like a small town.

Beth Am basketball makes me proud to be a member of Beth Am, proud to be a citizen of Miami and the United States, and proud to be Jewish.

So, with the construction project before us, what is the current status of Beth Am basketball?

As you have likely noticed, the Hessel Family Youth Complex was demolished this past summer, making way for the construction of our spectacular and highly functional 21st century school building. What are the plans for Beth Am basketball?

I, like so many of you at Beth Am, am committed to keeping and growing the basketball league. It is one of our highest priorities. Phase 2 of the construction project will bring a state-of-the-art indoor basketball facility that will serve our community for decades to come. We also will have a new outdoor court. There is some discussion of an indoor facility capable of running two games at once, with state-of-the-art scoreboards and bleacher seating for parents. We are committed to a facility, and in turn a league, that is better than ever.

Meanwhile, thanks to an engineering success and an irrepressible imagination, our Steering Committee — led by Lily Serviansky and ably assisted by Dan Koffsky, Arnaud Karsenti, Evelyn Greer and Bob Hersh — devised a temporary, covered outdoor court at the steps of our administration/sanctuary building. We will host games at Beth Am, and we have arranged for overflow games to be played at offsite gymnasiums in the community. We have approximately 400 kids enrolled in our league this fall!

We are persistent and fully committed to the health and spirit of our league. It’s hard to explain with words the warm feelings it engenders in all of us who have and continue to participate in it. I am a lifelong fan of Beth Am basketball for that reason. I can’t wait for the new building and all it will offer us and our community.
In the meantime, the games go on!.


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