Got Ice? Get Central Israel!
Israelis wishing to go ice skating or compete in ice hockey are forced to travel all the way to the northern town of Metula, but this may soon change thanks to a Jewish American businessman and a Canadian philanthropist.I actually had a bit of trouble believing the "gold medal" part, but by gosh, it's true. And they only practiced street hockey on rollerblades before the tournament. They had no ice on which to practice! Hey--Israelis use their ingenuity. They turn seawater into drinking water, develop tiny swallow-able cameras for photographing one's gastrointestinal tract, and guess where the ubiquitous "flash drive"--you probably own at least three of them (we own maybe a dozen)-- was first invented? Given the opportunity, they can do anything. Even win ice-hockey competitions!
The two are holding talks with at least three cities in a bid to build the first Olympic ice stadium in central Israel, including Netanya, Rishon Lezion and Bat Yam.
The popularity of the ice hockey sport in Israel has been growing in recent years. Sidney Greenberg is a Jewish Canadian philanthropist who supports this sport in Israel.
He has been funding a Jewish-Arab ice hockey school in northern Israel with hundreds of thousands of dollars and sponsored the recent participation of children from a Bat Yam hockey club at an international tournament in Quebec, in which they won a gold medal.
Greenberg managed to convince Len Silver, a Jewish businessman from Los Angeles who specializes in the establishment and management of ice hockey stadiums, to set up such an arena in Israel.
Silver has been negotiating in the past few months with the Netanya, Rishon Lezion and Bat Yam municipalities.
Now, why will my son love this one? Because one of the activities he so misses from the States is street hockey, rollerblading, and ice hockey. He misses it so much, that he got himself a job once a week coaching a rollerblading chug* to yeshiva boys in Jerusalem. He is also working on coaching kids in his own area and I believe is helping maintain an artificial ice rink--yep, that's not real ice, but you skate on it with ice skates--which is temporarily being stored in the yishuv* in which he lives.
Just think: all those Israelis who were just dying to learn to ice-skate but had nowhere to practice (!) will now have a place to go, a reasonable distance from their towns and cities. Now, it's true that my son and his family live just a wee bit south of central Israel, in what is known as the Gush. Going anywhere for him is an esek*, so I don't know how much easier this will be for him, but it's a step (or a glide) in the right direction.
*esek: a big deal
*chug: a class, group activity or after-school program
*Go to my Facebook page to see a short video of "the coach" and his boys skating away on the now much bigger artificial ice rink.