As we’ve written before, this year PPI – Middle East has entered the first two teams ever with participants from both East and West Jerusalem in Israeli’s National Basketball League, the highest level of youth basketball in the country. The younger of these two teams (7th and 8th graders) recently played a game against Shoham that was no ordinary match. For starters, the PPI – ME girls (nicknamed the “Jerusalem All Stars”) had some difficulty playing their regular game. For most of the game they trailed behind, until finally they managed to take the lead and finish strong, earning another home win.
But there was something else unusual. The home team stands at the Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem were packed with avid supporters of PPI-ME’s team. These fans yelled “D-Fense!,” cheered each bucket and analyzed every move in the game. These supporters were the Lipman family.
This Spring, Reed Lipman, a 12-year-old boy from New York, was trying to think of a tikkun olam project to accompany his Bar Mitzvah, when his dad returned from Play Hard Hoops’ Masters Madness tournament in Milwaukee, which supported PeacePlayers International and was attended by PPI Executive Director Brendan Tuohey. The father told his son about PPI, and Reed was so taken by the idea that he decided to make supporting PPI his Bar Mitzvah project. Specifically, he resolved to do three things:
- He would research the organization and learn of its objectives and activities, particularly in the Middle East.
- He would raise awareness for his chosen cause among friends and family.
- He would ask invitees to his Bar Mitzvah to donate to PPI – ME in lieu of gifts.
Reed and his family came to Israel this December as part of their Bar Mitzvah celebrations. Naturally, we at PPI – ME were excited to hear this and made Reed and his family guests of honor at one of our highest profile events, an All Stars league match. These matches are ongoing and concrete evidence that the “PPI Way” works, and that youth from segregated communities can become not only teammates, but also good friends. For Reed, coming to the game was not only about seeing the game he loves in a different light, but also about seeing that his project would have a major impact. The family also noted their desire to see something that was “real” during their stay – something that was not “touristy” as the Lipmans put it – that illustrates what life is like in this part of the world.
After the game was over an excited Reed was taken by PPI – ME Managing Director Karen Doubilet to say hello to the girls. Their shared passion for the game of basketball was obvious and it wasn’t long before the Lipmans and the PPI – ME girls began a spontaneous match.
PPI – ME would like to wish a happy Bar Mitzvah to Reed Lipman and to thank him and his family for coming to see us, for their interest in our program, and for their generosity.