The Student News Site of Northwest Yeshiva High School

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The Student News Site of Northwest Yeshiva High School

The Mane Idea

The Student News Site of Northwest Yeshiva High School

The Mane Idea

Dribbling down memory lane

Keeping Ari Grashin’s memory alive on the court
Ari Grashin Memorial Game. Photo courtesy NYHS.

NYHS and the Seattle Jewish community came together at Seattle Hebrew Academy to honor Ari Grashin in the Ari Grashin z”l Memorial Tournament on March 9. 

The tournament stands as a tribute to honor Ari Grashin, who lost his life at 16 years old to brain cancer in 2002. This tradition, initiated in 2003, returned after a short hiatus due to COVID-19. Grashin’s love for basketball lives on through this event, showing how much he enjoyed the sport and the impact he left behind. 

For everyone who knew him, Grashin’s story is one full of courage, resilience and kindness. Diagnosed with brain cancer at 15 during his sophomore year at NYHS, Grashin battled hard with constant optimism and an energetic spirit. 

“He noticed everyone as a human being, he saw what someone didn’t see in themselves and was always so encouraging,” said Deirdre Schreiber, current NYHS principal, alumna and schoolmate of Grashin.  

The tournament has been a long-standing tradition, initially created by the school as a way to honor Grashin’s memory. Over time, it has evolved into a series of basketball games that unites current and prospective students, alumni and community members in a spirit of unity and remembrance. 

This year’s basketball tournament began with a speech about Grashin and some words of Torah by NYHS Head of School Rabbi Yehuda Gabay. “All he did was give; every story I’ve heard about him is about giving,” said Gabay. “If you want to be more like Ari, do something for someone else and give.” 

Following this speech, Rabbi Benjy Owen, head of Seattle Hebrew Academy, and former teacher of Grashin, reminisced about memories of learning Torah with Grashin. 

The NYHS alumni teams played against the current NYHS teams. The NYHS girls basketball team won 34-32 against the alumni team. However, the alumni men’s team beat the current boy’s basketball team 70-48. 

“I was really surprised with the energy,” said co-team captain of the NYHS student team Paulina Gamel. “It was still a very competitive game, but as it continued, it became a very exciting environment with every player being able to have fun on the court.” 

This year, a 10-minute scrimmage was added between the womens’ and mens’ games, with both the Seattle Hebrew Academy middle school girls’ and boys’ teams playing. 

At the end of the night, Grashin’s father, David, spoke about his son, and the significance of the games, gave thanks, and handed out gifts to each of the players. 

According to Schreiber, Grashin’s impact on the NYHS community reached far beyond the basketball court. He was a friend, a mentor and an inspiration for everyone who knew him. 

Throughout the week before the game, the NYHS community came together to reflect on Grashin’s life and his lasting impact on others, with the whole week dedicated to honoring his memory and the values he represented. 

On Monday, Steve Bunin, current boys basketball coach and Grashin’s basketball coach in 2001-02, as well as a close family friend, visited NYHS and shared his memories of Grashin and how they became close friends. “I was so thrilled to be a part of the team that brought back the Ari Grashin Memorial Tournament,” said Bunin. “He changed my life, and so many others, and it was such a joy to see the current students celebrate him and his friends with their acts of kindness, by learning Torah in his memory, and of course at the alumni games.” 

During advisory class on Tuesday, NYHS students learned Torah, enhanced the school’s appearance, and made art and goody bags to distribute to sick children, all in memory of Grashin. Later in the week, there was a Mishmar (an after-school Torah study session for students), in Grashin’s honor, during which Mrs. Sara Weiss, current NYHS parent, discussed Megillat Esther. On Friday, Grashin’s brothers, Josh and Zach Grashin, talked to NYHS students about the lessons from Grashin’s legacy that remain relevant today, as well as the importance of embracing every opportunity in life. “I thought it was really good,” said junior Ariana Balkany. “Although I never really knew Ari, this week definitely made me feel more connected to him.” 

The NYHS community hopes to maintain this as an annual event. Schreiber would like to have it as a student-run event over time, possibly by the Student Council or one of the clubs at school, for greater student involvement.  “It was a privilege to be a part of bringing back the Ari Grashin alumni games,” said Schreiber. “I am looking forward to developing this program with our students and school community for years to come.”


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Leah Gonzalez
Leah Gonzalez, Staff Writer

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