Steven Hertzberg puts up a shot during a Jewish Men’s Basketball League game in 2019.
Steven Hertzberg puts up a shot during a Jewish Men’s Basketball League game in 2019. (Partners Detroit)

Games will be played once again at the Beech Woods Recreation Center in Southfield.

The Jewish Men’s Basketball League is back after a one-season hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s great news for guys like 27-year-old Oak Park resident Jared Kohlenberg, who played in the Partners Detroit league’s inaugural season in 2019-20 shortly after returning to Detroit after working in Indianapolis and will play in the league again this season.

“I enjoyed playing in the league,” Kohlenberg said. “I’ve played sports all my life. I love to do anything athletic. It’s difficult finding time for that now with work and other obligations.

“I already knew a lot of guys in the league, and I met a lot of guys.”

Kohlenberg said the league struck the delicate balance of camaraderie and competition.

“It was definitely competitive,” he said. “There was trash talking, including by me, but all in good fun. Nothing malicious.”

Jared Kohlenberg
Jared Kohlenberg Jared Kohlenberg

Partners Detroit — a division of Yeshiva Beth Yehudah — has a goal of uniting the Jewish community through education and activities.

The activities include sports. Flag football and tennis are other sports offerings besides basketball.

Shmuli Wolf organizes the sports activities.

After having 80 players on 10 teams in the inaugural Jewish Men’s Basketball League season, Wolf is hoping those numbers will bump up this season, which will begin Dec. 13 and continue for 10 more Monday nights for the regular season and playoffs.

The final night of the league season will be March 14.

Games will be played once again at the Beech Woods Recreation Center in Southfield.

“About 70 guys have signed up for the basketball league so far. I’d love to have about 90,” Wolf said last week.

More than 70% of those who had registered by last week are returnees to the league. That didn’t surprise Wolf.

“We had a lot of good feedback about the league,” he said.

Players rate their basketball skills on the league registration form and teams are put together to make each one competitive.

Wolf said there also is an effort to bring together Jews from across the community on each team.

“We don’t want guys playing with only their friends,” Wolf said.

Basketball players who want to play in the league need to contact Wolf as soon as possible because of all the organizational work that needs to be done.

Send an email to Swolf@partnersdetroit.org or call him at (917) 588-2298.

Kohlenberg and basketball go back many years.

He played for West Bloomfield High School, in the Kenny Goldman League at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit in West Bloomfield, and three times for Detroit teams in the JCC Maccabi Games.

More than a decade ago, he had a starring role in one of the most amazing stories in Detroit Maccabi history.

Kohlenberg was a member of the shorthanded Detroit U16 boys basketball team that somehow won a silver medal in 2010 in Denver.

The team had just seven players.

Injuries left Detroit with only five healthy players — in other words, no substitutes — for the championship game against San Antonio.

To make matters worse, a Detroit player fouled out early in the fourth quarter. Detroit played a man short the rest of the game.

Kohlenberg was one of the four Detroit players left on the court who battled San Antonio to the bitter end of a 54-47 loss, earning the respect and cheers of the estimated 100 spectators.

A Detroit player fouled out late in the third quarter of a semifinal game against Denver, again leaving Detroit with four healthy players.

Jewish Men's Basketball League image

Maccabi ‘Fab Four’ 

Detroit beat Denver by three points. Kohlenberg again was one of Detroit’s “fab four” in that game.

“To play six games in 3½ days under those circumstances and earn medals was unbelievable,” Detroit U16 coach Barry Bershad said in a Jewish News story. 

“I’ve been coaching basketball for 40 years. I’ve never coached a team with less than five players.”

Kohlenberg graduated from the University of Michigan in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He earned a master’s degree in sports management at U-M the following year.

He found time to play on the U-M club lacrosse team while he was earning those degrees.

In his professional life, Kohlenberg is a financial adviser in the Birmingham office at Morgan Stanley. He started that job in 2019 after leaving Indianapolis.

He was a player services associate with the Exclusive Sports Group in Indianapolis for a year (2017-18), assisting NFL players who were clients and recruiting NFL draft-eligible prospects, and prior to that he was a recruiting assistant for nearly three years (2015-2017) with the University of Michigan football team.

Away from work and sports, Kohlenberg volunteers with organizations that help individuals with special needs and is an advocate in the mental health community. 

Please send sports news to stevestein502004@yahoo.com.

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