maccabi ice hockey

Much More Than Hockey in Israel

The seven Vancouver Hockey players arrived in Israel in February 2014 with their primary focus on doing something truly unique: playing hockey in the land of Israel, on the one full-sized rink in the entire country, right on the border of Lebanon. But when all the ice settled it was the many other experiences they had that produced more connections than the passes they made on the ice.

In between games at the annual Israel Recreational Hockey Tournament in Metulla, Israel, members of the Vancouver squad, which included Ariel and Daniel Wosk, Lionel Raber, Marvin Lithwick, Jeff and Barend Zack and JCC Sports Coordinator Kyle Berger, had jam-packed days filled with different experiences.

Starting with an introduction to the Canada-Israel Hockey School, where 400 Jewish, Arab or Druze kids of all ages learn to play Canada's game at the Canada Centre. Some of the team managed to get onto the ice with the senior group, which included several members of Israel's national hockey team.

After stops at a local farm to pick and gather veggies for the Israel Food Bank (via Leket Israel) and dip in the hot springs of Hamat Gader, the group spent a special day touring the Galilee Panhandle Region of Israel, Vancouver's Partnership2Gether (P2G) sister region, starting with a jeep tour along the old and new Lebanese and Syrian border lines.

Supported by a Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver P2G grant, the team then visited some of the many projects supported by the partnership. This included the Schafim School for Children with Special Needs, the musical garden at the school and the near-bye hydrotherapy pools. The final stop was at Beit Vancouver, a youth facility that serves as the umbrella for all youth programming in the Kiryat Shmona area.

The stop offered a chance for the Wosk brothers to see the end result of a contribution made by their family in the brand new state-of-the-art auditorium. Though the team didn't return home with the championship like last year, they came back with inspired connections to a part of Israel that Vancouver has played an important role in helping to develop.

For team captain Kyle Berger bringing people to Israel's North furthers the connections he has made over the years with the many Israeli teens and families who have participated in the JCC Maccabi Games as part of Team Vancouver-Galil. Also supported by a P2G grant, athletes from that region of Israel have been participating in the Games for many years, continuing to build the Gesher Chai - living bridge - between our communities.

For more information on participating in next year's tournament or the JCC Maccabi Games this summer, contact Kyle at or 604-638-7286