B'nai B'rith was founded on principles of inclusion, providing all manner of community identity and fellowship opportunities over the years. One such opportunity can be found in Philadelphia, with the B’nai B’rith Basketball League.
Playing games every Sunday morning, the inter-generational, co-ed league provides a chance for athletes of any religious background to play a game of hoops. The fees required to participate go back to fund local charitable work by B'nai B'rith, including Project H.O.P.E. around the holidays.
Read more about the league, courtesy of the Jewish Exponent. Find highlights from the story, below:
Three generations of one family are busy working a B’nai B’rith Basketball League game at the Abington Friends School gym on a recent Sunday.
“Every Sunday, I pick up my father, I pick up his bagel and his coffee, and he watches the game for four-and-a-half hours with me,” says Felt, who lives in Dresher and works in insurance and financial planning. “My nephew happens to be on my team by luck.”
Felt started the league at age 23 with Bruce Lefkoe when some of the guys from their B’nai B’rith softball team expressed interest in playing basketball.
Hal Bailer came in to help get things running during the league’s first 25 years, and what started as an afterthought morphed into a successful adult league that has managed to keep a high level of enrollment over more than three decades. They currently have eight teams playing in their Sunday league, run by Felt, and six teams apiece in their evening and summer leagues, which are run by Joshua Waters.
Participants pay anywhere from $350 to $450 each year to play, $150 of which goes toward lodge dues to the local B’nai B’rith chapter — even though most of them aren’t otherwise involved with the organization and a few aren’t even Jewish.
The lodge, one of few remaining local chapters of what was once a dominant Jewish fraternal organization in America, has about 180 members and currently runs its main endeavor, Project Hope, a mitzvah project that helps feed those in need, according to Felt. The rest of the fee covers expenses for renting the high school court and hiring professional referees.
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