Please enjoy this archived version of the

2021 CESJDS Athletic Hall of Fame Induction


CESJDS believes athletics is a great teaching tool for building character and discipline in today's youth. Now, 46 years after the creation of the School's first athletic team, we have one of the most formidable athletic programs in the PVAC. With 36 teams, 17 varsity sports, including the newly added PVAC additions of swimming and wrestling, we have triumphed and won countless championships. Our most recent accomplishments include sending athletes to compete at the Division 1 and Division 3 levels, winning banners across all three levels (Middle School, JV, and Varsity), and finding ways to compete against Jewish athletes from all over the country in various tournaments. 

Even during this unprecedented time, the CESJDS Athletic Department is proud to offer ten sports for all Upper School students to remain safely engaged, in-shape, and enthusiastic about our eventual return to play in the near future. 

CESJDS created the Athletic Hall of Fame to recognize the accomplishments of athletes and coaches over the years. The first-ever class was inducted during our 50th Anniversary celebration in 2016, with the second class inducted in 2018. 

 Mazal Tov to the inductees of our third class:

  • Nathan Bortnick '01
  • Rebecca Brochstein '91
  • Rachel Cohn '98
  • Heather Brooks Karatz '02
  • Debbie Fonner Labonski '85
  • Avi Lerner '92
  • Gilad Simhony '85
  • Girls Varsity Basketball Team 1998-1999
Please scroll down to read   more about each of our inductees.

2021 Inductees

Avi Lerner ‘92 

Avi was a three-sport athlete participating in baseball, soccer, and basketball. As a four-year starter for the soccer team, he earned multiple honors and awards including being named to the All-PVAC tournament team, team captain, team MVP, and he was mentioned in The Washington Post in 1991 as a preseason “player to watch.” As a star on the baseball field, Avi added on to his stellar athletic resume by helping lead his team to a regular season title while continuing to build his growing list of personal awards and honors. He was named to the All-PVAC team every year he played baseball and was a three-year starter. Avi won the coveted league MVP award as an all star pitcher and shortstop his junior year, while batting over .550 as a sophomore and junior. Avi rounded out his high school career by being named the CESJDS athlete of the year in his graduating class. 

Today, Avi lives in Maryland with his wife, Kara, and two kids Jonah (age 11) and Zoe (age 8). When Avi is not coaching his daughter’s soccer team, he is working for the Congressional Budget Office. Avi still participates in a competitive men’s softball league and tries to golf, go for a run, or a bike ride as much as he can. 

Debbie Fonner Labonski ‘85

Debbie was one of the original three--sport athletes at CESJDS and was a member of the basketball, volleyball, and softball teams. In addition to being a great teammate, Debbie was recognized as the JDS Athlete of the Year in 1982 and 1984 for all of her contributions to the JDS Athletics Program. In the 1984-1985 season, Debbie was named to The Montgomery Journal 1st team all county for her basketball accomplishments. 

Today Debbie is the mom of three boys, Max, Zac, and Cal who are all athletes. She works with Tyler Whitmore Interiors as a residential home stager and designer and also has a family reno/flip business as well.




Heather Brooks Karatz ‘02

Heather was a three-sport athlete at CESJDS and played soccer, basketball, and ran track and field. Heather helped her varsity basketball team win CESJDS’s first-ever girls varsity basketball championship in the 1998-1999 season. Heather received many awards and honors including the PVAC Track MVP in 2002, the PVAC Varsity Basketball MVP in 2001, and countless other JDS specific awards. One of Heather’s fondest memories of JDS athletics is beating a school rival in the semi-finals of the PVAC basketball tournament. Heather also competed in six different JCC Maccabi Games, helping her teams win many medals in both basketball and soccer. 

Today, Heather is a sports business executive and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Teddy, and their five-year old twins, Abe and Joelle.



Rachel Cohn ‘98

Rachel was a dominant three-sport athlete at CESJDS, participating in soccer, basketball, and softball. Rachel won countless awards including numerous All-PVAC honors and she was recognized as the JDS Athlete of the Year in 1997-1998. Rachel was also voted to the All-Tournament Team in the Beth T’filoh Basketball Tournament and participated in the JCC Maccabi Games for three years (1995-1997), helping her team make the podium each of those years. Additionally, Rachel was awarded the JCC Perlo High School Athlete Award. 

After graduating JDS, played basketball at Brandeis University from 1998-2002. She was team captain her senior year and was a two-year starter. While at Brandeis, Rachel won the Morry Stein Award of Valor (2001-2002): "a student athlete who has demonstrated courage both on and off the playing fields and/or intervened to better the lives of others," the Blue Heart Award (2001-2002): "in recognition of courage, determination, and honor; for going above and beyond the call of duty," Most Improved Player 2000-2001, and Academic All-Conference (University Athletic Association): 1998-1999, 1999-2000, 2000-2001, 2001-2002.

Today Rachel works as an internal medicine hospital physician and lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Keith and their four sons: Isaac (age 10), Ian (age 7), Andrew (age 5), Alex (age 21 months). Rachel plays pick up basketball weekly (pre-COVID) at the Portland JCC with other women in the community, has also coached basketball at the local Jewish Day school, and is a member of the Portland JCC Maccabi Games committee.

Nathan Bortnick ‘01

Nathan was a stellar two-sport athlete who excelled in basketball and baseball, and helped lead CESJDS to many championships. Nathan received the coveted tournament MVP award in 2000 after leading his baseball team to a championship after having a regular season 2.98 ERA and a tournament .58 ERA and 14 strikeouts. The highlight of Nathan’s basketball career came in a holiday tournament when he scored 28 points and later participated in the Montgomery County Private Schools vs. Public Schools All Star Game. In addition to his many championships, Nathan won multiple PVAC league awards as well as the CESJDS Senior Athletic Achievement Award. 

Today, Nathan is married to Rebecca and they have two sons, Devin, (age 4), who will be attending CESJDS in the fall and Zachary (age 2). Nathan works for the Lincoln Property Group providing commercial real estate advisory services.



Rebecca Brochstein ‘91

Rebecca was an exceptional three-sport athlete, who helped lead the JDS soccer, basketball, and softball teams to countless victories. In addition to numerous PVAC all conference awards, Rebecca was the Girls Varsity Soccer MVP, the Girls Varsity Softball MVP, and received the Senior Athletic Award in 1991. 

After graduating JDS, Rebecca joined the Brandeis University Women’s Soccer Team from 1991-1995 and participated in the New England Women's 8 Academic All-Conference Team 1992-1993. She was awarded Brandeis University Women's Soccer Coach's Award in 1994.

 Today Rebecca lives with her wife Laura and their children Noa (12) and Eitan (11) on Massachusetts’ North Shore where Noa and Eitan attend the local Jewish day school. Rebecca works as a hearing officer for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services. Rebecca continued playing in women’s recreational soccer leagues for ten years post-college but eventually retired and spends her free time these days as the co-chair of the parents’ association at her children's school.

Gilad Simhony ‘85

Gilad is being recognized for his exceptional basketball career and for being the first JDS Division I basketball player. Gilad was the JDS Athlete of the Year as well as basketball MVP. After graduating from JDS, Gilad was a member of the George Washington University Men’s Basketball Team before returning to Israel for his army service. Gilad played for eight professional teams in Israel, three as a team captain. Gilad was a member of the Israeli youth national team, the Israeli All-Army team, and the Israeli National Team. Gilad was ranked in the top 3 for assists and steals for many years and made the Israeli All-Star team. Gilad’s top game came when he was playing for Jerusalem and they beat Tel Aviv behind his 32 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and 5 steals. 

Today Gilad is married to Orly and they have 3 kids: Sachar (age 17), Aviv (age 14), and Uriya (age 11) and they live in Tel Aviv. Gilad works for a high tech company he started 15 years ago.


Girls Varsity Basketball Team 1998-1999

The Varsity Girls Basketball Team of 1998-1999 was the first girls team to win the regular season banner and the tournament banner. They beat St. Andrews in the Championship game 51-46 to put the exclamation mark on an incredible season. Ester Fulop ‘00 was named the tournament MVP after recording 22 points in the championship game and Coach Phil Papier was named the PVAC Coach of the Year. One of the most incredible highlights of the team is that they won the tournament without any seniors and they had to pull up a few players from the JV team who played an instrumental role in the win. Two years later, those same JV players went on to have the first undefeated season in school history and win an additional two banners. The team consisted of multiple PVAC award winners as well as a Washington Post All-Met Honorable Mention winner. 

Previous Inductees