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

NYHS basketball team changes a high school experience

NYHS+basketball+team+changes+a+high+school+experience
Mason Kelley

After discovering NYHS through the boy’s basketball team on the news, Eylon Shani found a new community and reconnected with his Jewish roots.

Eylon Shani, a freshman living in Bellevue, joined NYHS this year after leaving an online school. Seeking a small, more personal educational environment and a place to pursue his passion for basketball, he discovered NYHS through news coverage of the school’s basketball team. Drawn by its strong Jewish community and impressive basketball program, Shani found a new home at NYHS.

Shani was previously enrolled at Brightmont Academy, a one-on-one online school, and wanted to move on to high school as he had already completed all his middle school courses by the end of seventh grade (in 2023). Switching from an online one-on-one school to an in-person one involves significant adjustments, so Shani was looking for a small private school. Aside from a smaller school, Shani was also looking for a place to play basketball, as he had been playing outside of school for a few years. 

So on a search for a new fitting school, Idan, Shani’s father, came across NYHS unexpectedly on the news. 

In 2022, the NYHS boy’s basketball team qualified for the state tournament for the first time in 48 years. A small Orthodox school reached this milestone and received coverage on King 5. This caught Idan’s attention, prompting him to consider NYHS a potential school for his son, especially given its Jewish affiliation. Although Shani was born in Israel, he moved to the Netherlands at age 3 because of his parents’ jobs. Jewish communities are relatively small in the Netherlands. The Shanis saw NYHS as an opportunity to reconnect with their Israeli and Jewish heritage.

 Shani toured NYHS and also checked out the basketball team during the summer. Impressed by the environment, small classes at NYHS, and the basketball team, Shani enrolled at NYHS and joined the boys’ varsity basketball team.

Today, Shani plays power forward on the court and swings for both the varsity and JV teams due to a lack of players available on the varsity team.

“Eylon is very eager to learn and willing to listen,” said boys’ basketball coach Steve Bunin, who is also the sports journalist who authored the King5 news article highlighting the unique achievement of a small orthodox school, which was later discovered by Inbal. “He has great defensive skills and good behavior too, which earned him a spot in the playoff starting roster.”

 One of Shani’s favorite moments of the season was when he assisted teammate Joe Benoliel in a buzzer-beater full-court shot at a game against Pope John Paul II High School.

 “Nobody was really expecting him to make the shot but then he made it and it turned into a big moment for the team and everyone ran on the court,” said Shani.

Bunin recounts a pivotal moment in practice where players demonstrated their defensive abilities against the opposing team—a moment where Shani’s talent shined.

 “I can’t wait to see him develop over the years at NYHS; he makes me really proud to be a coach,” said Bunin. 

Shani’s growth goes far beyond the basketball court. According to Rabbi Rothstein, despite Judaic classes being new to Shani, he’s shown remarkable progress. 

“He has grown tremendously. He came in with a less structured background in Judaic studies and has worked hard to participate more actively in class, answer questions, and truly understand different practices and Jewish teachings. He demonstrates a genuine curiosity to learn more,” said Rothstein. 

“Taking Judaic classes for the first time has obviously strengthened my connection to Judaism, especially my classes about halacha [Jewish law],” said Shani.

Shani’s father noticed this growth too, especially in their day-to-day conversations. 

“You can hear it in his daily life,” Idan said, “because of NYHS, for example, now when he talks to his grandparents who live in Israel, he actually understands what they talk about and can have a real discussion with them about Israel. He even sometimes will point out things related to Judaism throughout the day that we didn’t even know.” 

 

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Elianna Rothstein
Elianna Rothstein, Digital Editor

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