Can Israeli Politics Thrive at SDJA? 

By Dalia Gerson (’23) and Rosie Alchalel (’21)

Netanyahu & Gantz - Wellman (January 2020)

Illustration by Gaby Wellman (‘20)

BIBI CHAIM SHELI, Sharon Cohen (‘20) proudly scribbles on Mrs. Webber’s whiteboard during the busy Yearbook class period. This simple Hebrew phrase roughly translates to “Bibi is my life,” alluding to Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel. 

“Are you crazy?” Gaby Wellman (‘20) wittily remarks, “I think you misspelled Gantz,” referring to Netanyahu’s most prominent political opponent, Benny Gantz. 

Both inside and outside the classroom, this year’s Israeli elections have slowly taken over SDJA. No surprise considering that the school has Israel rooted in its foundation, seen in such facts as the Lower School being named for Prime Minister Golda Meir, the larger-than-life portrait of Theodor Herzl in the MUS lobby, and the annual schoolwide Israel week celebration in late January and early February. 

Although students tend to maintain loyalty to the United States by tuning into American politics more than they do to the situation in Israel, politics in Israel continue to play a strong role in students’ lives. And while most, if not all, SDJA students share a love for the Jewish state, many differ in their political ideology and their hopes for the state. But how much do they really know about Israeli politics? How deeply do they care about the future of their home away from home? 

Many students from non-Israeli backgrounds, such as Eli Lerner (‘21), do, in fact, follow Israeli politics. “It is the home of the Jewish people and I have a connection to it,” Lerner comments. “I check to see how it is doing.” Similarly, Gaby Wellman cares about Israeli politics because, as she says, “Israel is a country that I hold close to my heart.” 

Yonatan Boukobza (‘23), who is visiting from Beer Sheva, Israel for a year, thinks that it is important to follow the politics of both Israel and the United States. Israeli politics matter to him because Israel is his home while “American politics also matter because they can help Israel because the U.S. is stronger.”

Mr. Torens' Jewish Values in the Israel-Palestine Conflict Class (January 2020)

High School students sit attentively during Mr. Jeremy Toren’s Jewish Values and Israeli Palestinian Conflict class.  Photo by Rosie Alchalel (‘21)

 

But where are these students getting all of their information from? 

Some students, such as Eitan Breziner (‘20) and Reef Gonen (‘22), turn to Israeli news outlets like Ynet in order to stay updated, yet the majority of SDJA students rely on social media. Rikki Dorfan (‘22) stays updated by viewing the Daily Mail story on Snapchat, and Talia Abu (‘22) uses social media to stay connected with current news. 

Instead of allowing students to rely solely on the media for the news, the SDJA Hebrew department sees it as its mission to provide students with Israeli political knowledge. Morah Shira graciously shared some insight about the class with The Lions’ Den: “We cover the current issues and current news in Israel, especially the elections, without giving any opinion, using just facts about what’s happening.” Additionally, a lot of students turn to Morah Shira outside of class. She claims that students come to her with questions about the topic “at least once a week.” 

As well as acquiring information about Israel from the Hebrew department, many students enroll in the Israeli Palestinian Conflict class led my Mr.Toren. While this semester-long class does not emphasize current events, politics do play a role in its curriculum. “A big part of our discussions [focus on] the connection between values and politics,” comments Mr. Toren. 

Overall, the task at hand is educating more students about the issues that matter in Israeli politics so they can develop their own opinions and decide how deeply they want to get involved. Many students feel as though a course strictly about Israeli politics would be beneficial. Eli Lerner (‘22) thinks that  “a class [like that] would be cool because I know I am not as educated as I could be.” Talia Abu (22’) says that it could be a good idea “if it is in a way that is unbiased.” It seems that the challenge is about keeping it factual and objective in order for people to freely develop their own opinions.

While the school definitely has room to grow in its coverage of Israeli politics, one thing is for certain: conversations between students will continue to circle around their beloved homeland. 

 

A Galaxy Not So Far Away

A Film Review for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

By Kayla Swartzberg

Faceless Rey by Gaby Wellman

Illustration by Gaby Wellman (’20)

I believe with great certainty that Lucasfilm is the definition of ethos. Find it in a dictionary. Look it up online. Because Lucasfilm has delivered so many out-of-this-world Star Wars movies that it’s hard not to give the company credit. And as the Star Wars reputation becomes engraved in stardust gold, the more people watch the coveted films with one thing in mind: to find the flaws.

Why? The Dark Side made them do it.

The newest Star Wars feature, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, is Episode IX in the series, and the last installment of the third trilogy. In other words, it finishes the stories of Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren, and their relationships with the “O.G.”s, Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie. Emperor Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious (rhymes with “hideous”), makes a comeback in this movie, looking deadlier than ever. 

Going into the theater, I had very high expectations. I think most people did, hence the hunt for imperfections. The question of “Is this the last one?” hung over everyone’s heads, and we all knew that if Star Wars was ending, then this movie better leave a lasting mark on the cinematography universe. 

So, did it? Depends on who you ask.

As for myself, I have some thoughts. Buckle up.

Firstly, the three musketeers in The Rise of Skywalker (Rey, Finn, and Poe), however loyal they are to the cause of the Rebels and saving each others’ lives, don’t actually show signs of real friendship. Poe and Finn hold quick conversations of one-liners, trying to out-macho each other. Maybe for Rey’s sake, when she isn’t abandoning them. All three fail to notice a certain furry friend getting captured.

You know who.

Secondly, the lack of narrative is prevalent in this film because there are so many hellos, goodbyes, and face-offs—none of which are bad, per se—that the storyline gets washed away. What’s left? Snippets of different stories mashed together into one. 

The Chosen One.

Thirdly, the movie doesn’t shy away from the classic Star Wars theme of “keeping it in the family” (remember “Luke, I am your father”?) especially concerning Rey’s identity. And while the reveal itself seemed anti-climactic, Rey’s identity fit the storyline relatively well.

But my lips are sealed.

Until they aren’t sealed. A big concern I had with the movie was its constant violence. At some point I developed a sort of numbness toward it, and I pondered whether this is why real violence and gore has become such an apparent American phenomenon.

Too much Force, I suppose?

The truth is, the movies with young Luke, Leia, and Han were more memorable than the newer movies because they weren’t filled with fighting the entire time. No, in those movies colorful aliens danced and sang, old spaceships sputtered, garbage compactors squished, carbonite froze, and ewoks cheered. People talked, talked, instead of smoldered. They took their time, and that was the sign of the times. 

As for The Rise of Skywalker, I would recommend it to Star Wars fans. Not that a warning would stop the hard-cores from kicking open the doors and wrestling for a seat in the theater. I would recommend the movie because of its fantastic film score (God bless John Williams), its hypnotic visuals, clever cinematography, purposeful acting, and, of course, its long-anticipated reveal of Rey’s identity.

Knock yourself out.

It’s purebred entertainment. And, not to mention, there is something very philosophical about the whole “good side and bad side” of a person, or of two people. It reminds me of the Jewish belief in “yetzer ha-ra,” the evil inclination, and “yetzer ha-tov,” the good inclination. It also reminds me of the angel and the devil. Of Cain and Abel. Esau and Jacob. Rey and…  Kylo?

You tell me.

And for all of the Jedi and Sith out there, beware of a few jump scares that will startle you in your seat. One of them being a kiss. 

Muah.

The film also kisses goodbye to the sweet Princess Leia played by Carrie Fisher, who sadly passed away in 2016.

For now, I’d say Lucasfilm wears its gold ethos nicely. The Star Wars reputation upholds. Because although it’s not easy making movies across the galaxies, I think it’s even harder making movies for our galaxy. You can’t please everyone.

Especially with the aliens and all.

If the Lockdown Had Been Real 

Gun violence continues to menace schools and communities nationwide

By Rosie Alchalel (‘21) and Kayla Swartzberg (‘21)

Gaby Wellman - Gun Illustration (December 2019)

Illustration by Gaby Wellman (’20)

“16 seconds is all it takes for a 16-year-old boy in Saugus High School to take a .45 handgun and shoot five of his fellow classmates,” Rabbi Frank somberly remarked at an SDJA high school Kabbalat Shabbat on November 15.

In the crowd, students barely seemed surprised because school shootings have become commonplace in the United States. Since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, an estimated 223,000 students have experienced school shootings. Although these numbers may seem unfathomable, an accidental code-red lockdown at SDJA on November 7th reminded everyone that a school shooting is not inconceivable. 

“I was kind of prepared because I had done lockdown drills at my old school,” Sivan Gabai (‘23) explains, “But when I got inside everyone else was very serious about it so I didn’t know if it was real or fake.” 

Thankfully, Ken Freshwater, Director of Security and Safety, soon realized that the alarm, which initiated the lockdown, was triggered by accident—no actual threat was present at the school. 

This isn’t the first time both faculty and students dealt with the repercussions of gun violence. Just two years ago, they initiated a walk-out on campus after the infamous shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that claimed 17 lives.

Walkout

SDJA students show solidarity with victims of gun violence during the SDJA walkout in March, 2018
Photo by Elizabeth Nebo

 

But many schools around the country have come face-to-face with real danger. Most recently, Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, located just north of Los Angeles, suffered a school shooting on Thursday, November 14. 

Although many students don’t have a direct connection to Saugus High School, Hannah Moel (‘20) says that “everyone knows somebody who knows somebody” who has experienced gun violence first hand. As it turns out, this is true even within the SDJA community; Eli Lerner (‘21) comments that his camp counselor witnessed both the 2019 Poway synagogue shooting  and the Carlsbad Elementary School shooting in 2010.

Mass shootings have become an American phenomenon and are occurring faster than the nation can process. The day following the Saugus High School Shooting, Pleasantville High School in New Jersey experienced a school shooting of its own in which two boys and a man were shot;  one of the boys later died. On a Saturday morning, November 16, a man in San Diego shot his wife and three children before turning the gun on himself. 

“It’s been less than 24 hours since you interviewed me about the Saugus High School shooting, and now we see gun violence yet again. This time even closer to home,” Moel states.

Another issue is the fact that some of these shootings can become lost in the media. Shootings seem to occur at such a rapid pace that they almost inevitably cease to shock the public or raise much concern.

Since the first day of the school year, on August 20, shooters have shot, killed, and wounded students at 23 different schools throughout the nation. On August 30, during a high school football game in Mobile, Alabama, ten teenagers were shot and injured by a 17-year-old young man. Less than two months later, on October 9, two men in Lowell, Massachusetts used BB guns to open fire at kindergarteners. Five children were hit and two were taken to the hospital. On November 4, a student at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri was shot and killed after a gun was accidentally discharged. Not even two weeks later, on Sunday, November 17th, in Fresno, California, two gunmen snuck into a house party and opened fire; four people were killed, six wounded. On a Saturday morning, November 24, two boys, aged 11 and 14, were shot and killed outside an elementary school in Union City, California. 

“It is time to wake up and ignite the change that is necessary.” Jessy Podolsky (‘20) says, “There’s not a single solution that will solve this, but we definitely need more gun regulations.”  Jessie Gan (‘21) adds, “There should be emotional regulation of those who own guns already, although it is important to not cross the line of invading privacy.” 

Following the mass shooting that took the lives of 22 innocent shoppers at Walmart on August 3, 2019, in El Paso, Texas, a beautiful memorial was unveiled. Called the “Grand Candela,” this memorial shines as “a beacon of hope for the survivors, and a lasting reminder to all of the enduring strength, resiliency and love that unites El Paso,” the plaque reads.

“At the end of the day our lives are on the line,” Joshua Miller (‘21) explains, “and sadly we don’t see much being done about it.”

Since January 2019, over 440 innocent people have been brutally shot and murdered in the U.S.A., and the numbers only seem to be increasing. As this article was being edited for publication, two more tragic shootings occurred in the United States. On Saturday, December 8th, a Saudi Arabian air force lieutenant studying in the U.S. opened fire at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida resulting in three deaths and leaving another eight people wounded. And on Tuesday, December 10, two gunmen in Jersey City, New Jersey murdered a policeman near a cemetery and three civilians in a Jewish grocery store before being killed by police in a violent shootout.     

 

Crunch Time

A Loud Reminder to Eat Breakfast

By Kayla Swartzberg (‘21)

Rumbles echo throughout the Ulam–they’re long and deep. Swiveling in unison, the students turn to lock eyes with each other, rubbing their stomachs with guilty smirks. No breakfast? No problem. Right? Wrong. At San Diego Jewish Academy, the Lions need to eat.

Every day presents new choices, new options and opportunities to grow and learn–blessings at our fingertips. Most SDJA students take such freedoms of learning for granted. 

“I get to choose subjects that I’m passionate about, and I’m not forced to take classes that disinterest me,” Geena Benson (‘21) says.

However, such opportunities can be diminished. By breakfast–or, more accurately, by students’ lack of it.

 

“For me, personally, breakfast is not the biggest meal,” Gabi Acks (‘22) states. Her classmate, Diego Kohan (‘22) agrees that breakfast isn’t his largest meal, “I may eat a piece of bread for breakfast on a school day.” 

Both Kohan and Acks believe that a good breakfast can give them energyor as Kohan remarks, “a daily boost.” Why, then, do they not take advantage of it?

Time. Students do not have time to eat breakfast in the morning. Coach Nicole Trotta, science and anatomy teacher at SDJA, offers a solution to this problem. “Wake up five minutes earlier!” she exclaims, adding how eggs, smoothies, and oats are easy to make and eat on-the-go.

But don’t be sly and cheat the system. Eating a breakfast of junk food, while quick and convenient, is not the answer. Athletic Director Stefanie Hill explains it is “typically high in sugar, will provide an initial burst of energy but then burn out quickly.” She finds that eating a breakfast of junk food will not keep one satisfied but will rather make them hungrier sooner than if they had eaten a healthy breakfast.

Healthy breakfast? 

“A healthy breakfast should always have a mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates,” Coach Trotta explains, “Also, drinking water right when you wake up is very important. It rehydrates and wakes up your body, organs, and muscles.” 

As for the food itself, SDJA Executive Chef Giselle Wellman says, “I usually make two scrambled eggs and fruit with yogurt. I think it’s a great source of protein.” 

Above all, Coach Hill reminds students that  “it is important to eat balanced meals throughout the day.  Balanced meals at regular intervals create consistency for your body.” She continues by comparing food to fuel for a car. A car can’t run without fuel, just like a person can’t function without food. Simple logic.

And with that, some simple facts: skipping breakfast hinders progress in the gym. Teens who sit and eat breakfast with their families hold a more positive body image than those who don’t. With that great body image, teens who eat breakfast actually have better-smelling breath than the non-breakfast eaters. One also performs better academically with less risk of becoming obese and dying—all because of eating breakfast.

So tomorrow morning, fry yourself an egg. Crunch on some toast. Slurp down a cup of orange juice. A little crunch time will guarantee a better day.

Cheerleaders Spark New Passion for Lion Pride

By Ella Diamond (‘20) and Ariela Moel (‘22)

A brand new cheerleading squad intensified the spirit at San Diego Jewish Academy basketball games in the 2018-2019 winter season. Last year, Dalya Khan (‘19), Maya Baltinester (‘20), and Maya Sharf (‘20) all pictured the Lady Lions wearing a blue and yellow cheerleading uniform since there wasn’t already a cheer squad. This year that dream came true.

Baltinester recalls how when she first approached Coach Hill to ask about starting a cheer squad, Coach Hill replied, ‘Maybe next year.’ One of the major reasons Coach Hill was reluctant to create a cheer team was the fact that CIF hadn’t officially classified cheer as a sport.

However,  in 2017, former California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 949, which classifies competition cheer as a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) sport, just like basketball, cross country, football, gymnastics, lacrosse, volleyball, and soccer.  

The passing of this bill prompted Coach Hill to reconsider adding competitive cheer to the SDJA athletic program. When asked what led her to make the final decision to implement cheer, Coach Hill replied that it came down to “CIF making cheer a sport in 2018 and having a substantial number of girls interested in it.”  

 

Cheer Squad (1) - Spring 2019

The first cheerleading squad in SDJA history prepares to cheer at the varsity teams’ basketball game. (L-R: (Ariela Moel (‘22), Geena Benson (‘21), Ella Diamond (‘20), Rikki Dorfan (‘21), and Rena Novom (‘22)) Photo: Karina Evans (‘21)

As it turned out, there were 15 student athletes willing to participate, and the squad was successfully formed in a matter of days. Enthusiastic fans were soon coming to home basketball games to watch the action and hear the cheer squad roar “Take it to the hoop, Lions, WHOOP! To the hoop!”

Fans agree that the cheer squad has increased the level of school spirit and excitement at basketball games. Kayla Swartzberg (21’) concedes that this was the first year she ever went to watch a Lions basketball game. Swartzberg says, “The main reason I went to watch the game was to watch the cheer squad,” adding “I had a lot of fun! I can’t wait for next year so I can attend more games.”

Rena Novom (22’), a back spot on the SDJA cheer team, says her favorite part of this sport is stunting. “It’s always thrilling when we get to throw people in the air,” Novom says. As a back spot, her job is to make sure the flyer, who gets thrown into the air, doesn’t fall to the ground.

In cheerleading, there is a spot for everyone. Novom doesn’t like going up in the air and doesn’t feel extremely comfortable being a base, so being a backspot is the perfect position for her. Another cheerleader, Ariela Moel (22’), embraces this opportunity, unlike Novom, Moel prefers to be thrown in the air rather than pushing others up.

Cheer Bow

One of the many additions to our cheer uniform is our eccentric bow. Photo: Ella Diamond (‘20)

The success of the cheer team has driven SDJA Athletics to extend the sport to both the fall and winter sports seasons for the coming year. Many student athletes have already signed up to join the sport and are excitedly awaiting the beginning of the season in August. Novom says, “Cheerleading has been such an incredible experience. I loved it, and I can’t wait to do it next year!”

Indifference: the True Problem with the Newport High School Party

By Moriah Seyman (‘19) and Joseph Vilenski (‘19)

On Saturday, March 2, a group of high school students gathered for a party in Newport Beach, California where they played a popular drinking game called “rage cage,” except with a slight, disturbing modification: for this version the teens set up their cups in the form of a Nazi swastika.

Unbeknownst to them, their actions would soon spread through social media across the country, highlighting the growing problem, in the United States and elsewhere, of ignorance about the Holocaust and Jewish struggles throughout history. Although these teenagers claimed in their apology letters that they had no intention of reviving Nazi culture or Hitler’s ideals, they, and their peers, as the last generation within living memory of the Shoah, still have the responsibility to ensure that the world never forgets this atrocity. They should also try to prevent insensitivity to racial, cultural, religious, and ethnic bias by spreading knowledge and awareness of the persecution that the Jewish people have suffered for so long.

The morning after the incident, Ava Ganz, a senior at Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School in Irvine, California, re-posted a photo she saw on social media. “Scrolling through Snapchat and see this from a Newport high school party. Absolutely disgusting,” tweeted Ganz. The post garnered national attention after a few hours.

The picture shows the high schoolers playing the aforementioned game, the revelers all standing with their right arms raised to resemble the Nazi salute.

Various students at San Diego Jewish Academy offered their opinions on the matter. Kayla Swartzberg (‘21), believes that “our mission should be to educate and give ignorant people like these the knowledge to make decisions that everyone is proud of.” To Ariella Markus (‘19), it is “hurtful” to use the Holocaust as a joke. “It’s horrible because the Nazis killed so many people,” Markus says. “However, compared to all the other acts of antisemitism going on in the world, this one is not as big but I still think it’s bad.” Evan Levine (‘19) agrees, adding, “I don’t think it is acceptable for anyone to make light of what the Nazis did.” Gil Zucker-Abudi (‘22) acknowledges this, but adds that “what they did was wrong, but I don’t think they deserve to have any long-lasting repercussions.” Nonetheless, some of the photographed students reportedly lost college scholarships and admissions. Daniel Acks (‘19) says, “It was an awful, ignorant thing to do, but the rest of their lives shouldn’t be ruined. I feel as if it’s a poor reflection on how they teach about the Holocaust at other schools.”

Madeline Ramirez (‘21) points out how these partygoers failed to consider that if these pictures spread across the Internet, it would give the world a platform to respond. “They thought it was funny and did not think about the consequences,” she says. “They should have known it was going to backfire on them especially with it being posting on social media and should’ve never even thought about doing it in the first place.”

While most responses to Ganz’s post voiced support for the Jewish communities, some, unfortunately, were directly opposed to Jewish culture. Most troubling, however, were the many statements of indifference. Some people posted truly tone-deaf comments on social media like, “It’s literally a party, if you are going to get your panties in a twist then you can just leave.” Kayla Swartzberg agrees that “those kids revealed the true power of ignorance and that it is NOT, in fact, bliss.”

Sadly, people who are openly anti-semitic do exist in the United States today and it’s nearly impossible to convince them to think otherwise. However, the ones who are indifferent to such acts are possibly the most dangerous. Their apathy could lead to more acts of ignorance. Other posted remarks such as “jokes are jokes” and “if these kids were actual Nazis they wouldn’t be making a swastika out of plastic cups, they’d be beating people in the streets” dismiss the fact that anti-semitism is not a “joke,” especially when it comes to the Holocaust. It is impossible to eliminate all bad elements from society. However, if no one cares enough to stop them, people’s actions can only get worse.

Luckily some teenagers are willing to take a stand. Joey Sable, a Jewish senior at Orange County School of Arts, posted a lengthy reply to the partygoers on his Instagram. His post spread to places like Miami, Mexico, England, Israel, and even Australia. Sable wrote about his experience with anti-semitism and questioned the supposed comedy of such an act, asking “Why is it hard for people to understand that the death of millions of people at the hands of Nazis is nothing close to a comedic joke? It is still felt generationally, and will continue to regress society.” At the end of his post, Sable invited his “non-Jewish peers” to “Saturday morning service,” to “attend Shabbat dinner,” to a “Challah bake,” and most importantly to take action by using social media and conversation, instead of resorting to hate. The next week, Sable and Kaitlyn Turner, a senior at Tarbut V’Torah appeared on CBS’s “Inside Edition” to speak about the situation. Turner emphasized the fact that “it’s our job to educate [the students at the party] and help them realize how hurtful their actions were that night”

Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel once said, “to forget the Holocaust is to kill twice.” Swartzberg (‘21) says that anti-semitism can’t stop until people “open their eyes to the truth of the Holocaust.” Indifference to ignorant acts could cause people to overlook the gravity of truly anti-semitic acts of violence done by those who genuinely hate the Jewish people. In September 2018, America saw the reality of hatred and antisemitism in the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. While the recent party in Newport Beach showed some disturbing ignorance, it also proved that most Americans fully support their Jewish communities and refuse to let casual bigotry go unnoticed.

Chile National Team Trains on SDJA Field/ Equipo Nacional de Chile Entrena en SDJA

In honor of the recent visit by the Chilean National soccer team to San Diego Jewish Academy, Joseph Vilenski (’19) offers the following bilingual report about the thrill of welcoming star athletes to our campus.

Chile National Team Trains on SDJA Field

Longtime students at San Diego Jewish Academy can remember lower school teachers and administrators scolding them for picking and playing with the grass on the sports field. “This is an award-winning field” or “this is the best field in all of San Diego” the teachers would say with great dignity. In fact, this splendid field, which can accommodate the demands of numerous different sports, has won the Best Field of the Year award from the Sports Turf Managers Association.  

In 2016, the Mexico National Soccer team trained on SDJA’s highly touted field in preparation for a friendly match at SDCCU stadium, (formerly Qualcomm Stadium). Recently, however, SDJA hosted Mexico’s opponent, the Chile national team, from March 18th to the 22nd, for their second friendly match against Mexico at SDCCU Stadium on the 23rd.

For the Chilean team, choosing the Jewish Academy field was a “matter of logistics”, as stated by  Carlos Eduardo Velasco, an assistant coach for the team. The team “looks at all the possible scenarios that can accommodate the standard that our national team is used to,” continued Velasco. This meticulous approach helps Chile find the “ideal locations” where their team can practice.” However, for many students and soccer fanatics at the academy, like Eitan Breziner (‘20) and Ruben Veinbergs (‘19), the occasion was much more than just soccer practice.

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Sion Memun (‘19) posing for a picture with one of Chile’s star players Arturo Vidal Photo by Simon Shoshani (‘19)

“It was an honor to have some of the players like Arturo Vidal, who I grew up watching on TV, play on our field,” said Breziner, who found it astonishing to watch star athletes whom he idolizes using the same nets that he kicks goals into. “I can’t believe such big people in my eyes, would come to our small school”.

The Chilean team and the Mexican team have some memorable history together. The last time they played in sunny San Diego, Mexico won 1 – 0. However, that same year, Chile handed Mexico one of its worst losses (7-0) in the 2016 Copa America, going on to win the whole tournament. For Ruben Veinbergs who has Chilean and Mexican roots, this rivalry has been entertaining. “My Grandma is Chilean and everyone else is Mexican” Veinbergs said. “It’s been fun to see the back and forth, but I can’t believe that both of my favorite teams came to play at my small school” continued Ruben with pride in his voice.  

However, “pride” was not something many Chileans could say they felt about their soccer team. “La Roja”, a popular nickname for the team, failed to qualify for the World Cup, only a year after winning La Copa America. The team brought in new coaches, including Velasco. After being asked what the future holds for “La Roja” after not qualifying, Velasco said, “that is the great task that awaits our coaching staff, we hope to be in Qatar in 2022, to do a good job and raise the expectations of the Chilean fans, and eventually make it back to the World Cup”.  

Despite all the excitement about the Chileans visit, on March 23rd, 2019, Mexico beat Chile 3 – 1 at SDCCU Stadium. Many Mexican students rejoiced saying “Viva Mexico!” Maybe in a few years, the Chilean fans will say “Chi chi chi le le le – viva Chile!!!”.

 

Equipo Nacional de Chile Entrena en SDJA

Los estudiantes de la San Diego Jewish Academy pueden recordar a los maestros y administradores de la secundaria regañandolos por picotear y jugar con el pasto en el campo de deportes. “Este es un campo premiado” o “este es el mejor campo en todo San Diego”, dirían con mucho orgullo. De hecho, este espléndido campo deportivo versátil ha sido premiado como el Mejor Campo de San Diego por el Sports Turf Managers Association.  

En 2016 el equipo de fútbol nacional de México entrenó en el campo altamente promocionado de SDJA en preparación para jugar un partido amistoso en el estadio SDCCU, (anteriormente estadio Qualcomm). Recientemente, sin embargo, SDJA recibió al oponente de México, el equipo nacional de Chile, desde el 18 hasta el 22 de marzo 2019, para entrenar para su segundo partido amistoso contra México en el Estadio SDCCU el 23.

Para el equipo chileno, elegir el campo de la Jewish Academy fue un “tema de logística”, como lo expresó Carlos Eduardo Velasco, un asistente del entrenador del equipo. El equipo “miró a todos los posibles escenarios donde podía cumplir con una norma estándar que tiene nuestra selección nacional,” continuó Velasco. Este proceso meticuloso les ayudó a encontrar el “idóneo para nuestra selección nacional.” Sin embargo, para muchos estudiantes y fanáticos del fútbol en la academia, como Eitan Breziner (’20) y Ruben Veinbergs (’19), hubo mucho más que eso.

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Sion Memun (’19) con Arturo Vidal foto: Simon Shoshani (’19)

“Fue un honor tener a algunos de los jugadores como Arturo Vidal, a quien crecí viendo en la televisión, jugar en nuestro campo”, dijo Breziner. Para Breziner, el hecho de que los jugadores que él idolatraba llegaran a practicar en el campo de su escuela fue asombroso. “No puedo creer que gente tan grande en mis ojos, vendría a nuestra pequeña escuela”.

El equipo chileno y el equipo mexicano tienen una historia memorable juntos. La última vez que jugaron en sunny San Diego, México ganó 1- 0. Sin embargo, ese mismo año, Chile le dio a México una de sus peores derrotas (7- 0) en la Copa América de 2016, y ganó todo el torneo. Para Ruben Veinbergs, quien tiene raíces chilenas y mexicanas, esta rivalidad ha sido entretenido. “Mi abuela es Chilena y todos los demás son Mexicanos”, dijo Veinbergs. “Ha sido divertido ver de un lado a otro, pero no puedo creer que mis dos equipos favoritos vinieron a jugar a mi pequeña escuela”, continuó Rubén con orgullo en su voz.

Sin embargo, el “orgullo” no era algo que muchos chilenos pudieran decir que sienten sobre su equipo de fútbol. “La Roja”, un apodo popular para el equipo, no se clasificó para el Mundial, nada más un año después de ganar La Copa América. El equipo trajo nuevos entrenadores, incluido Velasco. Después de que se le preguntó qué espera para el futuro “La Roja” después de no calificar, Velasco dijo: “esa es la gran tarea que espera que nos han traído a nuestro grupo técnico, esperamos que podamos estar en Qatar en 2022, hacer un buen trabajo y elevar las expectativas del grupo de chilenos y volver a estar en el Mundial “.

A pesar de toda la esperanza del equipo chileno, el 23 de marzo de 2019 México venció a Chile 3 – 1. Muchos estudiantes Mexicanos de SDJA celebraron diciendo “¡Viva México!”, pero en unos años los fanáticos de Chile tal vez dirán “Chi chi chi le le le – viva Chile!!!”.