A Champion’s Fall

Even a champion can fall to heartbreaking depths. In the case of 14-year-old Jeremy*, each rise and fall he has taken at Boys Town Jerusalem has been roller-coaster steep. Now, he’s once again struggling to climb.

Jeremy was disruptive in class until he was given responsibility

“When Jeremy began Seventh Grade last year, he was a loner,” BTJ Junior High Principal Rabbi Yehudah Rosencrantz recalled. “He soon became the class nuisance, interrupting lessons and bullying classmates. Fortunately, we discovered that Jeremy was an accomplished table tennis champion. We then quickly organized a table, paddles and ping pong balls for the campus rec room and placed Jeremy in charge. With new responsibility and new respect from his classmates, the champ’s conduct vigorously improved.

Grief and poverty changed his champion self

Yet, tragedy has now plunged Jeremy into paralyzing grief. His beloved table tennis coach Ben Zussman, a 22-year-old IDF reserve officer, was recently killed in the war. “Jeremy was inconsolable,” Rabbi Rosencrantz shared. “Plus, his father lost his job at the war’s start, placing the family in dire financial straits. We’ve waived tuition payments, and are offering aid.”

Jeremy has a long journey ahead of him

At Jeremy’s side, the BTJ staff is steadfastly trying to comfort him. “For now, we’re urging him to play in an upcoming tournament in memory of Ben Zussman, proving that the real victory is in preserving Ben’s memory, devotion and love.”

*name changed to protect identity