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South Vancouver high school puts faith into play

Judaism teaches team lessons that translate to sports success

A group plays a futsal game at the Jewish Community Centre Photo by: Adam Levi
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Reported by Adam Levi

The principles of Judaism have been passed down for thousands of years and the players at King David High School have been using those principles to win games.

The junior boys basketball team won a championship for independent schools last season. David Amram, the school’s athletic director, said he’s noticed that his more religiously focused students tend to perform better.

“There are always one or two kids who were a little more spiritual or a little more religious who were always on our winning teams,” Amram said.

Promoting principled play

For King David’s Rabbi Stephen Berger, sports can act as a valuable tool for teaching principled values.

“The game is not the end in itself,” Berger said. “It’s all the different lessons that game brings out, like the ideas of team, sportsmanship and others.”

At the Jewish Community Centre in South Vancouver, recreational sports leagues are based on the same principles as those at King David.

“Of the 140 members in our hockey league, around 80 per cent of them are Jewish,” said the centre’s athletic director Kyle Berger. “I think that’s a pretty impressive number. For the community of just over 25,000 [Jewish people] in Greater Vancouver, that’s not a bad number to have of actual Jewish participants.”

There may not be a long history of successful Jewish athletes, particularly in professional sports, but the high level of interest within the community makes at least one rabbi envious.

“My son’s hockey coach gets everyone at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I can’t get anyone,” Dan Moskovitz joked. “I wish that some of the kids at my synagogue were as religious about religion as they are about sports.”

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