Goodman leaves Talmudical for Takoma Park school

Orthodox Jew transfers to Christian academy

August 15, 1999|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

During the summer, Tamir Goodman gave the odometer a workout in regular trips to College Park for pickup basketball games at the University of Maryland, the school that offered him a scholarship earlier this year.

Those trips to the Washington area apparently won't end anytime soon. The 17-year-old has transferred from Talmudical Academy to Takoma Academy, a Seventh-Day Adventist institution, and will commute daily to the Takoma Park school.

Chava Goodman, his mother, and Takoma Academy coach Joe Perrone both confirmed the move yesterday, though neither would comment further.

Though Goodman is an Orthodox Jew, those around him don't expect attendance at a Christian school to violate the integrity of his faith. Seventh-Day Adventists adhere to a similar Sabbath day, so Takoma won't play any games from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

Goodman's father, Karl Goodman, told the Jewish Times that his son would not need to take Christian-based classes and would study at a nearby Jewish day school.

"We're not shipping our son off to the Vatican," Karl Goodman told the Jewish Times. "[Tamir's] got to got to minyan in the morning and learn Torah before he even sets foot in the school each day. We didn't do this without Rabbinic consultation."

When school starts at Takoma on Aug. 23, Goodman -- now in Israel and unavailable for comment -- will find himself at a school minutes away from Cole Field House and with the opportunity to encounter basketball competition levels above that at Talmudical Academy, the Pikesville-area school where he averaged 35.4 points per game last season.

The journey to a new school began in May -- when Goodman knew he wouldn't be returning to Talmudical -- and led to dalliances with schools ranging from Beth Tfiloh, another Orthodox institution in Pikesville, to DeMatha, a Roman Catholic basketball power in Hyattsville.

Goodman's coach at Talmudical, Harold Katz, wrote in a Jewish Times guest column that DeMatha coach Morgan Wootten suggested Takoma, which would "allow Tamir to study Torah in the mornings, take their classes in the afternoons, as well as not play any games on the Sabbath within a competitive schedule in basketball."

The school Goodman chose plays in the Beltway League, a group based in the Washington-area including The Heights, Montrose Christian Academy and National Christian Academy.

Takoma was able to accept the academic credits Goodman had earned in Hebrew classes, while it also offers a 5,000-seat gymnasium capable of handling the large crowds its newest player often attracted last season.

Goodman won't be the first high-profile figure to join the Beltway League. DerMarr Johnson, last season's Parade national Player of the Year, played at Montrose Christian before going to Maine Central Institute and on to Cincinnati, where he will be a freshman this season. Stu Vetter, who coached St. John's at Prospect Hall in Frederick to prominence, is now at Montrose.

Still, Goodman's arrival at Takoma -- which went 4-6 and finished third in the league last season -- is welcome news to league co-founder and commissioner Matt Morin, coach at The Heights. "We have about 10 solid Division I players, which is exceptional for a six-team league," Morin said. "This year, the league's very talented, and we're looking forward to having Tamir join us We're established, but [Tamir] takes us to another level."

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