A place to call home: Construction begins on HAFTR’s new sports complex


It might be a large hole in the ground encircled by cyclone fencing right now, but within six months that gaping space on the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns (HAFTR) Lower School’s campus in Lawrence will be the site of a state-of-the art gymnasium.

The 7,500-square-foot building will house HAFTR’s indoor sports teams, including boys’ and girls’ basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, floor hockey and serve as place to hold functions. It will have locker rooms, a video scoreboard and seating for nearly 400.

“It will be a first-class, all-purpose sports complex that will be large enough to accommodate all of our sports,” said parent Yaron Kornblum, who serves as co-chair of the two year old planning committee. The building is being designed by Inwood-based John F. Capobianco Architects.

Part of the $2 million the school is raising through donations is targeted to renovate the Lower School gym with new lighting, windows and court floor. That gym is also used as an auditorium. They have already raised $1.4 million.

“It’s great for our community to have a brand new state-of-the-art gym with plenty of bleachers and space, ;Maron, HAFTR’s executive director.

“I have been involved with HAFTR since the ‘80s and this floor is the original from the Hillel gym from 60 years ago,” said Joey Hoenig, HAFTR’s athletic director and co-chair of the project committee, during the construction’s kick off barbecue at the Lower School on March 29. Hillel merged with HILI in 1978 to become HAFTR.

Due to the lack of facilities, HAFTR leases space to play its “home” games at public schools, Kornblum said, and with no genuine home court, that puts the Hawks hoops teams and Flames hockey squads at a distinct disadvantage against other schools. “It’s been a dream of HAFTR’s to build this new sports complex,” said Kornblum. “A place that we can call home.”

Despite not having a home court advantage, the boys’ seventh-grade basketball team won its division championship and the floor hockey team won the Metropolitan Yeshiva Junior High Hockey League championship in double overtime. “I think it’s really great,” seventh-grader Elijah Glaubach, who played on the Flames title team, said about the new sports complex. “It’s really cool.”