When Basketball Meets Shabbat: Rami’s Story



March 10, 2023

Coming to campus as an observant Jewish student, I was immediately drawn to Hillel as the center of Jewish life at University of Maryland. I went to Hillel for kosher meals, for services, to meet friends, and to learn Torah. 

I’m also a lifelong basketball fan (go Sixers!), and was looking for a way to bring my Jewish life together with my love of basketball. When I learned about the National Hillel Basketball Tournament (NHBT), I knew I found the perfect blend of Judaism and basketball. I joined the board of NHBT and it quickly became an important part of my college experience. 

Now, as the Co-Chair of NHBT I am excited to welcome over 300 players and another 300 guests to Maryland Hillel in April for the 11th annual NHBT. Over the course of the weekend, each team will have the chance to play against teams from all over the country and from all kinds of Jewish backgrounds. 

In a moment unique to NHBT, at sunset on Friday, the competition of the Friday games will be set aside as the entire tournament welcomes Shabbat together. 

For me, Shabbat is a moment outside of space and time. It’s a paradoxical moment of disconnecting from the noise of weekday life in order to connect with friends, family, and God. Hillel is all about bringing connection and passion to our Jewish lives, and Shabbat at NHBT is an opportunity for students to experience that regardless of their background. 

When Shabbat ends after a Havdalah ceremony, which marks the separation between Shabbat and the rest of the week, the playoff games will kick off, and the tournament will be back in full swing. It’s these moments which have made NHBT such a special part of so many students’ lives and had such an impact on me. 

As I wrap up my last semester of college, Hillel, Shabbat, and basketball continue to be foundations for my life and my identity. I’m so proud of the work I’ve done with NHBT and I’m excited to see where this journey takes me next.