The 7th Annual National Hillel Basketball Tournament took place last weekend, which was the largest collegiate Judaic tournament in the country. Hillel brought together about 57 teams from dozens of schools across the country.
Over 35 schools and over 400 participants competed at the highly anticipated tournament, which was planned entirely by a board of 25 University of Maryland students and volunteers.
Mia Carmel, the campus recruiter for the tournament, said that she sees the tournament as an opportunity to “unite the Jewish community through basketball, which is something that most of the people who play have such an intense passion for. It truly is amazing to see your work pay off.”
The tournament was started by Rachel Epstein seven years ago, in an effort to create a competitive basketball tournament between her friends at Maryland. Since then it has grown to be the largest Judaic basketball tournament in the country, and NHBT now has a board of 25 students who plan and run the entire event.
Dalia Bauman, the director of finance, said that the tournament had a budget of over $100,000. Most of the money was raised through fundraising and a small sum from the Student Government Association. The cost to play is about $800 dollars per team, which covers the cost of three days of hotel accommodations, food, apparel, security, staff and playing venues such as the Xfinity Center.
“I feel incredibly accomplished that a group of just 25 Maryland students could do something so incredible and successful,” Bauman said. “It is a very unique event not only because of the purpose of it, but having a student board run a three-day event with a pretty big budget and completely independent is not something you see everyday.”
Shoshana Wolf, a junior sociology major and planner for the tournament, said that the most important part for her was the Friday night Shabbat dinner at Ritchie Coliseum, which over 700 people attended.
“It is incredible to work on something for six-plus months and then see it all come together in such a unique way,” Wolf said. “I think that the entire board felt superbly accomplished the whole weekend.”
Joshua Goldstein, a participant from Georgia, said that he had “an amazing time” and felt a sense of pride and excitement to see so many Jews come together to share a similar passion.
This year participants played in the Xfinity Center, the Armory and Ritchie Coliseum. Games started on Friday morning and came to an end Sunday afternoon. Yeshiva University Aamir beat Yeshiva University Weiss in the men’s basketball final and an NHBT individual team took the championship against Columbia Senkfor for women.