Israel is one of the last places on earth you would expect people to lace up their skates and play hockey, but the sport is one that many Israelis love. As a hockey fan from the states, I was surprised when I came to Israel and found friends that also love hockey.
The Israeli national hockey team is really good, and they have done a great job promoting the sport in Israel and abroad.
Hockey is Stronger Than Hate was a weekend event where the Israeli team played Duquesne University’s team along with Penguins alumni. The event shows just how strong a commitment the Israeli team has not only for hockey, but for putting an end to hate. The event was to support communities in Pittsburgh, many of which are Jewish.
Penguins alumni are sure to bring in larger crowds, and players include former NHL players Tyler Kennedy and J.S. Aubin. Pittsburgh’s Police team and members of the Icemen will also take part in the event. Michel Therrien, former Penguin’s coach, coached the Israeli team.
Others will be playing, too, including former Women’s hockey players.
The event shows how the community can come together against hate. Merchandise was also being sold to help fight back against hate.
The game, all fun and meant for charity, shows just how far hockey has come in Israel. There was a time when the LED scorer’s table wasn’t even a thought, but in 1986, the first ice rink opened near Haifa. People have started to play hockey in Israel ever since. The rink, located in Kiryat Motzkin, led to Israel joining the IIHF by 1991, and the team has been playing in the world championships since 1992.
Olympic rinks have since been built, and there’s one being built in Holon that will be open in 2021 – 2022.
Year after year, the sport has been growing in Israel. The only thing holding back the popularity of the sport is a lack of rinks. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Israel is known for hockey, but it is a sport that is growing in popularity.
Beyond hockey and the growth of it in Israel, the game that was played was a way to unite people. The game honored the Tree of Life Synagogue’s victims, who died in a mass shooting last year. Ticket sales benefitted a few foundations, but they also benefitted the Israeli Hockey Federation and the Hillel Jewish University Center in Pittsburgh.
It’s a step in the right direction, whether it’s hockey, football or any other sport, to bring stars together from the past and present to bring awareness to hate. It’s a problem that Jewish communities have had to deal with for centuries, and it’s still a problem in today’s society.
Sports can help bring some awareness to the problem, even if it’s hockey, which in Israel, is a slow-growing sport that is just starting to pick up steam. Hate shouldn’t have a place in the lives of our children.