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After 47 years and 900 wins, this Jewish basketball coach is a legend at his Catholic college

BROOKLINE, Mass. (JTA) —  Andy Yosinoff departs his prayer service at Congregation Kehillath Israel shortly after 8 a.m. every Thursday during the college basketball season, navigating across the Boston city line.

For nearly 50 years, the Reform Jew has commuted to what’s become his life’s calling: coaching the women’s basketball team at a small private Catholic college.

Yosinoff, 76, is the second-longest tenured employee at Emmanuel College (a philosophy professor has been there longer) and one of the school’s pillars.

“Emmanuel’s been my life,” Yosinoff told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency of his 47 years at the school. “I wouldn’t be where I am if I wasn’t at Emmanuel. They allow me to be Andy Yosinoff, who doesn’t always do things in the most conventional ways.”

The all-time winningest Jewish college basketball coach at any level for both men and women with 898 wins, Yosinoff is also the country’s longest-tenured active college basketball coach, according to the NCAA. His Saints have garnered 21 NCAA tournament appearances and 18 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) championships in his nearly five decades leading the Division III program. In addition to heading the women’s hoops program, Yosinoff served as the director of athletics at Emmanuel for 17 years; he is now an associate athletic director and the department’s business manager and athletic alumni development liaison.

“Even as a practicing Jewish person, Andy really embodies the mission of Emmanuel College,” said Beth Ross, the college’s president. “I can’t think of a better advocate or somebody who is more passionate or committed to developing student scholar-athletes.”

Yosinoff grew up in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the only child of Freda and Louis Yosinoff. His family kept a kosher home and attended the Conservative Temple Emanu-el in Providence, where he later had his bar mitzvah. He still attends services there when he can, usually for the High Holidays.

That Yosinoff ended up a basketball coach is a surprise on its own. While he played varsity high school hoops “not great, pretty good,” he said, tennis was Yosinoff’s better court sport. Playing Division I tennis at the University of Rhode Island as the school’s first scholarship tennis athlete, Yosinoff held the top singles position on the men’s tennis team all four years and is in the school’s athletic hall of fame.

While at URI, he caught the coaching bug, pioneering the school’s intramural basketball team. Yosinoff continued coaching a YMCA team while obtaining his master’s at Miami University (Ohio) and developed the defensive schemes his teams still use today. He moved to Boston soon after, teaching physical education in Boston public schools and coaching basketball within the system.

One day, an advertisement in the Boston Globe caught his eye: a tennis coaching job at Emmanuel, then a women’s school.

Yosinoff applied immediately, but after meeting with the school’s part-time athletic director, he realized he couldn’t take the role because the hours overlapped with his teaching job. Yosinoff quickly pivoted, asking if Emmanuel had a basketball coach.

The answer?


“You do now,” he responded.

Yosinoff’s Saints found success not long after his arrival in 1977, 10 years before the introduction of the 3-point line, and they never looked back. Their best season to date came midway through his career in 2001, when Emmanuel reached the NCAA Final Four, becoming the first Boston school to do so at any division, men or women. He’s the NCAA Division III record holder for 20-plus victory seasons, with 27, and one of 10 NCAA women’s basketball coaches across all levels to reach 900 wins. Yosinoff coached the Saints to 72- and 68-game regular-season conference winning streaks from 2000-2006 and 2010-2016. He won the 2012 Jewish Coaches Association’s Red Auerbach National Coach of the Year Award and was a finalist a decade later. Yosinoff has also coached in the Maccabiah Games in Israel. The list of accolades goes on.

To boot, Yosinoff also coached women’s tennis at Emmanuel from 1980-1987. He became Emmanuel’s athletic director in 1986, while continuing to teach in the public schools and coaching women’s basketball and tennis. He retired from teaching in 2007 and has been full-time at Emmanuel since.

Perhaps Yosinoff’s most important accomplishment, though, came as an assist, when he helped then-freshman Lesa Dennis petition the NCAA to allow the devout Muslim to wear sweatpants and a scarf to cover her head during games in order to adhere to religious customs in the mid-1980s. Recently, Jamad Fiin, a 2022 graduate, rose to influencer status and viral fame for her empowering content as a female Muslim college basketball player.

Now, Lesa Dennis-Mahamed is a Roxbury, Massachusetts-based optometrist. She described Yosinoff as “an asset to the human race.”

“He is an advocate,” Dennis-Mahamed said. “Even though there can be some stress between Muslims and Jews, Andy doesn’t see that. He sees people as human. Andy looks beyond race, color, religion or even gender, and he sees the person for who they are.”

Yosinoff’s father Louis, who attended synagogue daily for 25 years, worked as a guidance counselor in Providence’s City Central High School, teaching his son about the importance of diversity and inclusion. Louis had started a scholarship fund at Emmanuel in honor of his wife, who died of muscular dystrophy at 65 in 1986.

Last year, Andy Yosinoff redid the gym’s bleachers in honor of his father, who died in 2017 at age 99 and was known as “Papa Yosinoff” to the team. A yellow seat in the middle seat of the first row honors Louis Yosinoff. The others are blue.

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the school’s founding order, emphasize the importance of equity, too, he said.

“It’s about giving inner-city kids opportunities to go to school. It’s essential for me, and was for my father back in the day,” Yosinoff said. “I’m more proud of how diverse our teams have been than all the wins in the world.”

As a dogged recruiter, Yosinoff can be seen in action all over northern New England. Joe Walsh, now the GNAC’s commissioner, got the Yosinoff pitch on a Friday evening in the summer of 1972 while shooting around in Allston’s Ringer Park by himself. Yosinoff approached then-15-year-old Walsh.

“I’m the coach of the Jewish Community Center basketball team,” and I need some players, Yosinoff told Walsh.

“I’m not Jewish,” Walsh said.

“I don’t care,” Yosinoff responded.

“The starting 5 was four Irish kids and one Jewish kid,” Walsh said. “You don’t get 900 wins as a college coach if you can’t recruit.”

Ross, Emmanuel’s president, remembers first meeting Yosinoff 23 years ago on the campus quad, located in the heart of Boston’s Fenway neighborhood, forming an instant friendship because of Yosinoff’s infectious energy.

“There isn’t a person on campus that doesn’t know Andy,” she said.

Ross credited Yosinoff for fostering an inclusive environment in his program while also holding his players to high standards, evidenced by their strong grade point average and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Team academic honors.

Kiera Eubanks, a current senior captain, remembers Yosinoff’s two-part recruiting promise as follows: First, if she joined the program, she’d win a championship. Second, he would do everything he could to help her find professional opportunities after college.

“He’s constantly checking up on us, also making sure that we’re succeeding off the court, and I certainly have felt supported during my four years here,” said Eubanks, a sociology major. “I wouldn’t change it for the world. He truly has made my college experience that much greater, and he truly cares about us.”

Meghan Kirwan, a 2012 graduate, joined Yosinoff’s staff as an assistant two years after graduating. She’s now in her ninth season in the part-time role.

“As a player I enjoyed it so much, so when he was looking for another assistant coach there was no one I’d rather coach under,” said Kirwan, who also works in the nearby Somerville Public Schools as a reading specialist. “He takes it very seriously and wants to win, but there’s such a free and fun lightness about him. Year after year I’m still here, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Already a member of the New England Basketball and Great Northeast Athletic Conference halls of fame, Yosinoff has since November 2016 had his name inscribed on the school’s basketball court — “maybe the only Jewish coach with his name on a Catholic college floor,” he said.

He eyes three more accomplishments: a national championship, a place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (which includes NBA stars) and 1000 career wins, in that order.

With a list that like, he clearly is showing no signs of slowing down.

“If I feel like I do today, which is the same energy as it was 45 years ago, and feel like I’m doing a good job helping my players get better, I can’t give you an age” to retire, Yosinoff said. “If I didn’t love the place, I’d be like a normal person and retired.”

The post After 47 years and 900 wins, this Jewish basketball coach is a legend at his Catholic college appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Biden Administration Urges Israel to Tone Down Response to Hezbollah Aggression in Bid to Avert Wider Conflict

Mourners carry a coffin during the funeral of Wissam Tawil, a commander of Hezbollah’s elite Radwan forces who according to Lebanese security sources was killed during an Israeli strike on south Lebanon, in Khirbet Selm, Lebanon, Jan. 9, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Aziz Taher

The Biden administration has been pushing the Israeli government to de-escalate hostilities with Hezbollah to prevent a full-scale war from breaking out along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where the powerful Iran-backed terrorist group wields significant political and military influence.

In Israel’s north, Hezbollah terrorists have been firing rockets at Israel daily from southern Lebanon since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre, leading Israeli forces to strike back. Tensions have been escalating between both sides, fueling concerns that the conflict in Gaza — the Palestinian enclave ruled by Hamas, another Iran-backed Islamist terrorist group, to Israel’s south — could escalate into a regional conflict.

More than 80,000 Israelis evacuated Israel’s north in October and have since been unable to return to their homes. The majority of those spent the past eight months residing in hotels in safer areas of the country. The mass displacement has ramped up pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to find a swift resolution to the situation.

The ongoing conflict between both sides escalated on Tuesday when senior Hezbollah commander Taleb Sami Abdullah was killed in an Israeli strike in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah responded by launching over 200 missiles into northern Israel. 

During Abdullah’s funeral, senior Hezbollah official Hachem Saffieddine vowed that the terrorist group would intensify its strikes on Israel. 

“Our response after the martyrdom of Abu Taleb will be to intensify our operations in severity, strength, quantity and quality,” Saffieddine said. “Let the enemy wait for us in the battlefield.”

In Israel, meanwhile, officials have said they prefer a diplomatic solution to the current crisis but are prepared to escalate military action to push Hezbollah back from the border in order to allow internally displaced Israelis to return home. Polling has shown that the majority of the Israeli public wants the military to engage in expanded actions against the Lebanese terrorist group, which is committed to Israel’s destruction.

The Biden administration has been advising Netanyahu against pursuing the idea of a “limited war” against Hezbollah, arguing that it could spark a regional war throughout the Middle East. According to multiple reports, US officials have warned Israel that Iran could dispatch militants from Syria, Iraq, and Yemen into Lebanon to bolster Hezbollah’s effort.

The White House has also expressed concern  that Israeli officials do not have a clear strategy on how to keep the war contained to solely Lebanon. Fear of a broader regional war has intensified the Biden administration’s urgency to finalize a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas, which launched the ongoing war in Gaza by slaughtering over 1,200 people throughout southern Israel and kidnapping more than 250 others on Oct. 7.

“We are concerned about an increase in activity in the north. We don’t want this to escalate to a broad regional conflict and we urge de-escalation,” a Pentagon spokesperson told reporters this week.

The Pentagon also released a statement saying that Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and his US counterpart Lloyd Austin discussed efforts to “de-escalate tensions along the Israel-Lebanon border in the wake of Lebanese Hezbollah’s increased aggression.”

According to multiple reports, Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser to US President Joe Biden for energy and investment, will head to Israel on Monday in an effort to temper tensions between the Jewish state and Hezbollah. Hochstein will meet with Netanyahu and Gallant with the goal of swaying them against green-lighting a “limited ground invasion” in Lebanon. Hochstein will reportedly also journey to Beirut to conduct discussions with Lebanese officials.

“There was a lot of work, diplomatic work done behind the scenes by several folks in the US administration, working with regional powers and our allies to try and tamp this down,” Hochstein has said regarding the prospect of a regional war erupting in the Middle East.

Hochstein argued that preventing a large-scale war between Israel and Lebanon requires “active engagement” with both parties and for the public of both countries to “understand the risks” of further escalation. He added that “despite the bravado talk” coming from government officials, Lebanese people do not to go to war with Israel.

“The bottom line is a lot of civilians will die,” Hochstein said.

Despite chest-thumping by Hezbollah leaders, experts believe that the elimination of Abdullah might cause Hezbollah to exercise caution in engaging further with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). 

The powerful elimination worries Hezbollah members. They now understand that the IDF knows much more about them than we do,” Professor Amatzia Baram told The Jerusalem Post. “Additionally, the operation indicates that Hezbollah’s field security is not airtight and that the organization’s intelligence system has been penetrated to such an extent that we were able to eliminate such an important sector commander. The IDF managed to infiltrate their networks and systems and identify the right people for elimination.”

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Iranian Court Sentences Woman to 18 Years in Prison for Supporting Israel

Iranian protesters carry a portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a Yemeni flag as they burn an Israeli flag during an anti-US and anti-British protest in front of the British embassy in downtown Tehran, Iran, Jan. 12, 2024. Photo: Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Reuters Connect

Fatemeh Sepehri, a prominent Iranian dissident and political prisoner, has been sentenced to an additional 18 and a half years in prison after she publicly expressed support for Israel.

The harsh prison sentence appeared to be at least partly in response to a video clip released on Oct. 16 from Ghaem Hospital in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad in which Sepehri, who suffers from a heart ailment, condemned Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel. Hamas is backed by the Iranian regime, which provides the Palestinian terror group in Gaza with funding, weapons, and training.

“I emphatically declare that the Iranian nation stands in solidarity with the people of Israel,” she said. “I hope [Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks] closes the Islamic Republic’s chapter in history.”


For 45 years, Iranian women have tirelessly battled for their rights, freedom, and advancement. Among them, Fatemeh Sepehri has boldly challenged the ideals of the Islamic Republic. NUFDI proudly awards her the 2024 Humanitarian Award.

— سه خط طلا (@misanthropgirl) March 19, 2024

Although Fatimeh’s court records are unavailable to the public, her brother Asghar Sepehri tweeted details about the sentence. According to her sibling, Fatimeh was sentenced earlier this month by a judge of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Mashhad to seven years for supporting Israel, another seven years for conspiring against internal security, three years for insulting Iran’s so-called “supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and one year and six months for propaganda against the Islamist regime.

Iran’s rulers regularly call for the destruction of Israel, often referring to the Jewish state as a “cancerous tumor” or “the Zionist entity.”

Sepehri was originally arrested in Sept. 2022 following the killing of Mahsa Amini, a young woman whose death at the hands of Iran’s morality police sparked nationwide protests against the ruling Islamist regime on an unprecedented scale.

Sepehri’s pro-Israel video was posted after she was temporary released from prison to undergo open-heart surgery. According to her family, Sepehri has been subjected to intense “psychological torture” while in prison. Her brothers, Mohammad-Hossein and Hossein, have also received severe sentences for similar charges: eight years and two years and 11 months, respectively.

In the past, Sepehri has been an outspoken critic of Khamenei and the Islamic Republic more broadly. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported in 2021 that Sepehri said on video that she hoped to see the day when Khamenei would be dragged through the streets and killed like Libya’s late ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

Days after Sepehri received her sentence, Iran released political prisoner Louis Arnaud, a French citizen, on Thursday. Arnaud was arrested in Sept. 2022 as anti-government protests were erupting across Iran. French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted shortly after Arnaud’s release, “Louis Arnaud is free. Tomorrow he will be in France after a long incarceration in Iran.”

Louis Arnaut is greeted by Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné at Paris’ Le Bourget Airport following his release from Iran. Photo: Screenshot

Three French nationals remain imprisoned in Iran as political prisoners. French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné posted on social media that securing their release remains a top priority.

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Former ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Star Patricia Heaton: Every Human Being Should Be Against Antisemitism

One of the billboards erected in partnership between JewBelong and O7C. Photo: Instagram

Emmy Award-winning actress Patricia Heaton said this week that following the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, it should be a “natural” reaction among all humans to want to combat antisemitism, as well as support the Jewish people and Israel’s right to exist.

The “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The Middle” star, who is a devout Catholic, made the comments during her guest appearance on the NewsNation show “CUOMO,” where she also advocated for Christians to voice solidarity with Jews and Israel after Hamas terrorists murdered 1,200 people and took 250 hostages during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Heaton began by telling host Chris Cuomo that after the Oct. 7 atrocities, she was “confused by the lack of outcry from the churches.”

“I even posted on Instagram, ‘Did you ever have that thought that if you were in Germany during World War II, you hoped that you would be that good German that helped to hide your Jewish neighbors? Well, today you have that opportunity,’” she added.

Following the Oct. 7 attacks, Heaton founded a nonprofit called the Oct. 7 Coalition (O7C) to urge Christians to be visibly outspoken against antisemitism, and in support of Jews and Israel’s right to exist. Heaton’s O7C has since teamed up with the nonprofit JewBelong to launch a nationwide billboard campaign to raise awareness about antisemitism in the US.

Talking about why she wanted to get involved in rallying support for Israel and Jewish communities facing a rise in antisemitism in the US since the Oct. 7 attacks, Heaton said, “I think if you’re a human being, that should be your natural response to what we saw.” When asked about how people in the entertainment industry have reacted to her avid pro-Israel stance, she said Jewish friends in the business have called her “brave and courageous.”

“[But] I just think this is just a normal human reaction,” she said. “I have heard ‘We have projects we have to promote. We don’t want to bring politics into it.’ I guess if someone spent 50 or 100 million on a movie, they don’t want to introduce this subject matter and I guess you can understand that. But generally speaking I think Hollywood could do more to support our Jewish community.”

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