Jewish men can jump: Jews dunking in basketball games


Three recent roundball revelations are giving JTA Staff an early case of March Madness.

1. On Monday night in Sacramento, Israeli-born NBA player Omri Casspi registered an alley-oop dunk that led the announcer to exclaim — I kid you not –"Sheket Bevakasha!" Watch from 0:19 for the Hebrew school throwback.

2. How can we talk about Jewish jammers in the year 2011 without mention of Valley Torah High School senior Aaron Liberman, who measures a whopping 6’9", is being recruited by Ivy League universities, and rang in the new year by posterizing basketball rival Yeshiva University Los Angeles (YULA)?


3. Think those dunks are big news? Get ready for the surprise of the century, as revealed before my eyes in an instant messaging chat "at the buzzer" of yesterday’s workday:

Ami Eden, JTA Editor in Chief: Hey, I need you to tell me two fairly unique traits of mine from my basketball playing days at Akiba.

High school friend: You shot your free throws underhanded

Ami: That’s one

HS Friend: You once stuck a grape up your nose

Ami: Also true, but not related to basketball.

HS Friend: you jammed

HS Friend (Again): As in dunked

To quote Dick Vitale, "Are you serious?!" You mean to tell me this 6’3", Jewish bookworm family man could dunk in his heyday? 

If you have a "slam dunk" lead on this missing video footage or any other Jewish dunkers, comment below, tweet us, or send an e-mail to

Also, check out today’s interview with opinion piece about NBA Commissioner David Stern. Tablet Magazine.

UPDATE: A friend in Israel directed me to the NY Times College Men’s Notebook from February 2000 that recounts a Yeshiva University alley-oop: 

Yeshiva’s Dov Weiner and Nachum Palefsky hooked up for an alley-oop during a 96-38 victory over Pratt last Tuesday. It was a noteworthy achievement for a school not known for its athleticism, and word of the play spread quickly through campus, Coach Jon Halpert said.

”Now legend has it that the kid threw the pass from midcourt, that the other guy leaped from the foul line and held his yarmulke in one hand while dunking with the other,” Halpert said.

[h/t Jewish Treats for the Liberman find, and JTA marketing whiz Uri Fintzy]

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