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A SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO LELAND GELMAN

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Leland was born in New York City. His parents, Harry and Edna, zā€l, moved the family first to Albuquerque, NM and later to Reading, MA. After spending a few years in the public school system, Leland's parents decided to seek a stronger Jewish education for their children, which led to Leland's enrollment first in the Merrimack Valley Hebrew Academy in Lowell and in 1976 in Maimonides to start the seventh grade.

It was at Maimonides where Leland's passion for sports blossomed. Though the organized sports program was in its infancy, sports nevertheless played a central role at Maimonides in the late '70s and early '80s. Whether it was pickup basketball (played on the outdoor court where the Fox Gym now stands), hockey (also played on the outdoor court), football (on the lawn), softball (in the elementary school courtyard) or "boxball" (a Maimonides original), sports were front and center at Maimonides.

On the basketball court, Leland was a skilled forward and a dominant big man. As a player, he was the perfect teammate, a relentless rebounder, unselfish passer and tenacious defender but with a soft shooting touch. His sports interests extended beyond basketball. On the football field, he was the quarterback and in the hockey rink he was a playmaking defender. Later in life he became a gifted golfer. You always wanted Leland on your team because he had your back and did all of the little things that helped your team win.

Leland was more than a talented athlete; he was also a loyal friend and a compassionate leader, with a talent for organization. If there was a game going on at school, you could be certain that Leland had put it together. Leland was the commissioner of the intramural hockey league and (before there was an interscholastic sports program) unofficially organized and scheduled interscholastic hockey and touch football games with other parochial schools.

More importantly, however, if Leland had organized a game at school, you could be certain that no one was left out of the fun. Even as a teenager, Leland strove to live by Hillel's golden rule, "what is hurtful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man." He was truly a champion of the underdog and lived by this ideal his entire life.

It is in this spirit that his family dedicates this befitting event to Leland's memory. His family is grateful to the board and administration for affording us the opportunity to work with the school on this meaningful project. Maimonides meant so much to Leland and his days spent here were among the happiest of his life. It is our hope that the tournament serves a tribute to Leland's love of sport and competition and continues to foster a spirit of camaraderie and friendship among tournament participants and the entire Maimonides family. 

 

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