After coach changed countless lives for better, YU ends his run

Controversy over termination at Yeshiva University


“I have a lot more to give.”

Dr. Jonathan Halpert, Yeshiva University’s men’s basketball coach for 42 years, spoke with The Jewish Star after his final game, when he led the YU Maccabees to a 60-57 win over Maritime College on YU’s home court.

The Saturday night game turned into a “beautiful send-off” for the beloved coach, said Woodmere attorney Jerry Joszef. “I owe him everything,” Joszef said. “To say I love him is an understatement. I learned kindness through the kindness he showed me.” Joszef attended YU from 1973-1977 and played forward.

YU announced on Feb. 10 that Halpert would “conclude his service at the end of the 2013-14 season,” said in a statement attributed to President Richard Joel that “Dr. Halpert’s caring commitment, as both mentor and coach, to his players and the YU community has made a difference for more than four decades.

“His legacy and lasting contribution to the University will be remembered each time our student athletes step onto the court that carries his name.”

When advised that his contract would not be renewed, Halpert said in an email to his players past and present that YU’s statement was “the corporate way of telling me that I have been fired.”

Halpert said the president had demanded he announce his retirement in May 2013 but that he was not ready to retire. He said he is “very disappointed” by Joel’s decision, but “I will never allow one decision made by one person in one moment of time to negate the wonderful experiences and associations that I have enjoyed over the past forty two years. My love and admiration for Yeshiva University, its administrators, faculty and students remain as strong as ever.”

YU said it would “soon embark on a nationwide search to identify Halpert’s successor” and declined to discuss Halpert’s termination.

“We do not comment on personnel matters,” YU said.

Halpert’s final game was a sea of yellow T-shirts emblazoned with “We (heart) Coach Halpert,” as well-wishers filled the Maccabees’ home court with reunions of players who hadn’t seen each other in many years and lined up before and after the game to hug Halpert. He spoke of his hakarat hatov, gratitude, for YU and for the opportunity to coach and drew a five minute standing ovation from the emotional crowd.

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