(JTA) — When it comes to Jews and sports, baseball often reigns supreme — both in terms of Jewish fan interest and the number of high-profile Jewish professional players.
But as some Jewish sports fans may recognize, the NHL has long had a large roster of Jewish players that seems to grow each year.
With the latest hockey season underway, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has collected all the Jewish hockey players to watch this season.
Read on for their stories, in alphabetical order, plus those of the free agents and minor leaguers who could see playing time this year.
André Burakovsky, Seattle Kraken left winger
André Burakovsky, who is of Russian-Jewish descent, is in his 10th NHL season and his second with Seattle. Burakovsky, 28, was born in Austria and has represented Sweden on its national team. His father, Robert Burakovsky, briefly played in the NHL in 1993-1994. The younger Burakovsky enjoyed his best season in 2021-2022 with Colorado, where he racked up 61 points on his way to his second NHL Stanley Cup championship.
Jakob Chychrun, Ottawa Senators defenseman
Jakob Chychrun also hails from a hockey family — his father played eight seasons in the NHL and his uncle is Chicago Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson. The 25-year-old Boca Raton native is in his eighth season in the league and his first full season with the Ottawa Senators, who traded for him in March. Chychrun scored nine goals with a career-high 24 assists last season, despite missing considerable time with an injury. The former No. 16 overall pick was born to a Jewish mother and has Ukrainian heritage. He told NHL.com that he grew up celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas.
Adam Fox, New York Rangers defenseman
At just 25, Fox is already an alternate captain for the Rangers, after earning two All-Star team selections and the 2021 Norris Trophy for the league’s best defender in his first four seasons. Fox grew up in Long Island’s Jewish community, where he attended a Conservative synagogue and had a hockey-themed bar mitzvah. “There are a lot Jewish residents on Long Island, so it’s cool for me to represent that community,” Fox told JTA last year. “And, you know, there’s not many Jewish athletes. So to be one of the few and have people who come from where I come from look up to me… I think it’s definitely pretty special.”
Cole Guttman, Chicago Blackhawks center
After a solid collegiate career with the University of Denver, where he captained his team to the 2022 NCAA Championship, Cole Guttman is in his first full season in the NHL. The 24-year-old, whose family hails from Hungary and moved to Canada in 1951 from a German displaced persons camp, made his debut last season, appearing in 14 games for the Chicago Blackhawks. Guttman missed the majority of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery in March. Guttman told NHL.com he’s ready for a comeback season.
Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils center
At 22 years old, Jack Hughes is already one of the NHL’s best players. The No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Hughes is a two-time NHL All-Star, and last season he set a Devils franchise record with 99 points. Hughes was also the runner-up for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, an award recognizing the player exhibiting the best “sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” Hughes had a bar mitzvah and celebrated Passover growing up with his hockey dynasty family. Hughes’ mother, Ellen Weinberg-Hughes, is Jewish and was herself an accomplished hockey player.
Luke Hughes, New Jersey Devils defenseman
Luke Hughes, the youngest Hughes brother, made his debut toward the end of last season, appearing in two regular season games with the Devils and three postseason games. Hughes, 20, was a star player at the University of Michigan, where he set several program records. He was selected fourth overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks defenseman
The eldest of the Hughes brothers, Quinn Hughes is a Canucks captain in his sixth season with the team. The 24-year-old also enjoyed a standout collegiate career at Michigan and was drafted by Vancouver with the seventh overall pick in 2018 — though he would return to Michigan for one more year. Hughes has earned at least 60 assists each of the past two seasons, and last month he was named the 15th captain in team history, making him the youngest current captain in the NHL.
Zach Hyman, Edmonton Oilers left winger
On the ice, Zach Hyman scored a career-best 36 goals and tallied a whopping 47 assists last season. Off the ice, he is among the more vocal Jewish athletes in all of professional sports. The Toronto native attended a Jewish high school, represented Canada in the 2013 Maccabiah Games and has said he wears No. 18 because of its symbolic meaning in Judaism. “I’m Jewish, and in Judaism, 18 is a lucky number; it’s chai, which means ‘life’ in Hebrew,” he told The Athletic in 2021. Hyman has also been involved in the Jewish community in Edmonton, where he lit a giant menorah at a local Hanukkah event in 2021, and has spoken out against antisemitism.
Luke Kunin, San Jose Sharks center
Luke Kunin is in his second season with the San Jose Sharks, for whom he appeared in only 31 games last season before tearing his ACL. Kunin, 25, had played in all 82 games the previous year with Nashville, scoring 13 goals with nine assists. He’s a Missouri native.
Devon Levi, Buffalo Sabres goaltender
Already a star goalie for Team Canada, Devon Levi is in his first full season in the NHL. The 21-year-old is a native of the Montreal suburb Dollard-des-Ormeaux, which has a sizable Jewish population, and he attended a Modern Orthodox school. Levi won the Mike Richter Award for the best goalie in NCAA men’s Division I hockey the past two years, becoming the first player to win the award multiple times. After his stellar career at Northeastern University, Levi debuted for Buffalo last season, appearing in seven games.
Jake Walman, Detroit Red Wings defenseman
Jake Walman is in his fifth season in the NHL and his third with Detroit. In 63 games for the Red Wings last year, the Toronto native tallied 18 points (nine goals and nine assists), punctuated by a game-winning goal in overtime that sealed a 5-4 comeback victory for Detroit in a game in which the team trailed 4-0. The 27-year-old is Jewish and has dual American-Canadian citizenship.
Jason Zucker, Arizona Coyotes left winger
Now in his 13th year in the league and his first in Arizona, Jason Zucker is one of the more experienced Jewish players in the NHL. The 31-year-old California native enjoyed a bounceback season last year with the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring 27 goals with 21 assists. It was his best offensive output since the 2018-2019 season, when he also won the league’s King Clancy Memorial Trophy recognizing his humanitarian efforts for raising $1 million for a Minnesota children’s hospital. Zucker has a Hebrew tattoo on his left forearm and though he never had a bar mitzvah, he celebrated Jewish holidays with his family, telling the Penguins website that he “would do virtual menorah lighting with my family back while I was out of town playing juniors or college.”
Other players to keep an eye on
There are a number of Jewish players currently on minor league rosters of NHL teams. Some of them already have NHL experience, and all of them have a chance to see playing time this season.
Andrew Cristall is an 18-year-old drafted by Washington in 2023. He said “It definitely means a lot” to be the lone Jewish draftee of his class.
Jason Demers is a 35-year-old Olympian with 700 career games in the NHL across 13 years and five teams. He’s currently a free agent.
Mark Friedman is a 27-year-old defender who was traded this week from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Vancouver Canucks. Friedman has 65 games of NHL experience across five seasons.
Josh Ho-Sang is a 27-year-old Olympian with 53 games of NHL experience who is currently a free agent. Ho-Sang is the son of a Jamaican father of Chinese and African descent and a Chilean mother of Russian-Jewish and Swedish heritage. He has said he “always celebrated the Jewish holidays like Hanukkah and the High Holidays with family and friends.”
Yaniv Perets is a 23-year-old goalie playing for a minor-league affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Chase Priskie is a 27-year-old defenseman with the Washington Capitals. Priskie made his NHL debut for his hometown Florida Panthers in 2021 and grew up in a Jewish home.
Max Sasson is a 23-year-old center also playing for the Canucks’ minor-league affiliate.
Ozzy Wiesblatt is a 21-year-old right winger playing for the San Jose Sharks’ minor-league affiliate.
In the Professional Women’s Hockey League, the lone Jewish player is goaltender Aerin Frankel, 24, who plays for Boston and for USA Hockey.
The post All the Jewish NHL players to watch in the 2023-2024 season appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Menorahs in Brooklyn Stolen and Vandalized, NYPD Investigating as Hate Crime
Multiple public menorahs in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York were stolen and vandalized, according to a spokesman for the Chabad Jewish movement.
The stolen menorah was seen on Sunset Park Center lawn on Wednesday evening, according to Yaacov Behrman, a spokesperson for Chabad. On Thursday, it was found broken.
In a separate incident captured on video, a man is seen riding up to a menorah in Sunset Park on a bicycle and pushing it over.
“The holiday hasn’t begun, and the vandalism has already started,” Behrman said on X/Twitter.
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is investigating the incidents as hate crimes.
The post Menorahs in Brooklyn Stolen and Vandalized, NYPD Investigating as Hate Crime first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
More than 500 staffers of Jewish groups, most of them progressive, appeal to Biden to press for ceasefire in Israel-Hamas war
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Hundreds of staffers for 140 Jewish organizations, most of them progressive, signed a letter to President Joe Biden and Congress urging them to press Israel to agree to a ceasefire in its war with Hamas, citing their work “building thriving Jewish communities.”
The letter, which does not necessarily reflect the views of the signatories’ employers, is the latest sign that differences among American Jews regarding Israel’s response to Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 invasion are becoming more public and pronounced. A number of Jewish Congress members now back a ceasefire, after having initially presented a unanimous voice in support of Biden’s backing for Israel.
“We are individuals who work for a wide array of Jewish organizations across the United States, coming together across the broad range of beliefs, practices, backgrounds and identities that make up the rich fabric of the American Jewish community,” said the letter, first reported Thursday by NBC.
“We are uniting together in this moment to call for a ceasefire, the release of all hostages, and a commitment towards a long-term political solution that ensures the freedom and collective safety of Israelis and Palestinians,” the letter said.
The letter comes just weeks after a mass pro-Israel rally on the National Mall, during which speakers enthusiastically endorsed Israel’s refusal to halt its military campaign until Hamas is dismantled and all the hostages it abducted on Oct. 7 are returned home. Hamas released more than 100 hostages in exchange for hundreds of security prisoners during a seven-day ceasefire that ended last week
The letter suggests to the president that the vocal Jewish groups that have opposed the war are also representative of a wide swath of American Jews. Biden prides himself on being attuned to Jewish sensibilities; he has cited his decades of closeness to Israel and to the American Jewish community in resisting calls from the left to press Israel into a ceasefire.
“As a group of professionals from a wide spectrum of Jewish organizations, many of us have devoted our life’s work to building thriving Jewish communities,” said the letter. “Our organizations may or may not join the call for a ceasefire themselves, but we feel moved to speak as individuals to demonstrate broad support within the Jewish community for a ceasefire.”
Most of the organizations listed as affiliates of the signatories are on the left of the political spectrum, among them Bend the Arc, Jews For Racial and Economic Justice, and Workers Circle and its affiliates, all of them social justice advocacy groups. Some of the social justice groups themselves have not endorsed a ceasefire, in part because their focus is on domestic issues. (A Boston spinoff of Workers Circle is an exception, and so is JFREJ.)
There are also staffers from the two leading groups that have mobilized Jewish opposition to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and backed a ceasefire: IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace, which is anti-Zionist. Left-wing activists point to Tthe visible presence of activists for these groups at antiwar protests to assert that there is Jewish backing for a ceasefire.
But some of the signatories come from groups focused on Israel that have opposed a ceasefire, including J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group. But in another sign of shifting sentiments, J Street said in a press release Thursday that it was reconsidering its position on the war.
There are also staffers for synagogues, some but not all known for their liberal outlook, that have not taken a position on a ceasefire.
More than 80 of the staffers signing asked for anonymity but listed their employers, which include mainstream groups that have backed Israel’s war effort, among them the Reform and Conservative movements. The list includes three anonymous staffers for UJA-Federation of New York, which has raised millions for Israel during the war.
“I signed this letter because all decisions at this fragile moment must be made with lasting peace and safety in mind for all people in the region,” the group’s press release quoted one of the unnamed UJA staffers as saying. “I call on President Biden to take immediate action for a permanent ceasefire, release of all hostages, and a just resolution to this brutal war.”
Heather Booth, a consultant for Jewish groups who did not sign the letter, urged the mainstream Jewish groups employing some of the signatories not to retaliate.
“Those who have signed the letter are responding to their values,” Booth told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “We may or may not agree with what they’re signing and saying and I didn’t sign this myself for many reasons. But I support their right to share their passionate commitment to their values.And it’s a sign of these times at some on the list fear retribution for signing.”
In a press release, a Boston-area rabbi said her support for a ceasefire stemmed in part from her revulsion from Hamas.
“For the sake of defeating the insidious ideology of Hamas, for the sake of returning all of the hostages to their homes, for the sake of the wellbeing of all of the Israelis and Palestinians caught up in this war, I urge the Biden administration to do all it can to bring about a ceasefire as a first step to a lasting, political solution to the conflict,” said Rabbi Tovah Spitzer of Dorsey Tzedek, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Newton.
The letter comes as a number of Jewish Democrats in Congress have in recent days called for a ceasefire, or have called for restrictions on emergency aid Biden has requested for Israel that has yet to be approved. One of the Democrats, Rep. Becca Balint of Vermont, made a statement in support of the letter.
“Thousands of Palestinians, including thousands of children, have been killed. Many more have been displaced, without water, food, medical supplies, and fuel,” she said. “This is inhumane. What is needed is a negotiated bilateral ceasefire that ensures the release of all hostages and paves a path toward peace, security and safety for Israelis and Palestinians.”
Hamas killed more than 1,200 people and wounded thousands on Oct. 7, most of them civilians. Since Israel launched counterstrikes and a ground invasion of Gaza, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry has reported that some 17,000 people have been killed, including thousands of children. What portion of that number are combatants, and what portion were killed by misfired rockets aimed at Israel, is not known. Israel has estimated that twice as many civilians as militants have died in its counteroffensive.
Shots fired fired at Albany synagogue with preschool, suspect in custody
(New York Jewish Week) — Shots were fired at Temple Israel in Albany on Thursday, the first night of Hanukkah, as U.S. Jews grapple with a surge in antisemitism following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the Israeli military’s military campaign in Gaza.
There were no injuries in the shooting on the premises of the Conservative synagogue in New York’s capital, Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement, adding that she had spoken with the congregation’s rabbi. She said in a press briefing, however, that the synagogue has an on-site early learning center, “with at least two dozen children, preschoolers, who were on the premises.” She added that the facility went into lockdown but that all children have been released safely to their parents.
A 28-year-old male is in custody, said Hochul’s press secretary, Avi Small.
The suspect shouted “Free Palestine” during the incident, Albany’s Times Union reported, citing police and another source.
Hochul said she had directed the New York State Police and the state’s national guard to be on high alert and step up patrols of at-risk sites for Hanukkah, such as synagogues, yeshivas and community centers throughout the state — including New York City, which is home to the largest Jewish population in the United States.
“Any act of antisemitism is unacceptable, and undermining public safety at a synagogue on the first night of Hanukkah is even more deplorable,” Hochul said. “We reject hate, antisemitism and violence in all forms.”
Hochul visited the synagogue on Oct. 7 in a show of solidarity amid Hamas’ attack.
The governor said that, following Thursday’s incident, she contacted Temple Israel’s Rabbi Wendy Love Anderson, and “assured her that the state of New York will do everything possible to restore the sense of security her congregation needs at this time,” adding that she plans to attend Shabbat services there this Friday evening.
In the briefing, Hochul noted that the synagogue had been one of several targeted with bomb threats in September.
There was no immediate public comment on the incident from the synagogue or the Albany police department.
Law enforcement and Jewish community security groups have reported a surge in antisemitism since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.
In New York City, the NYPD reported 62 antisemitic hate crimes last month and 69 attacks in October, a steep increase. Anti-Jewish incidents made up 65% of all hate crimes reported to police last month. There is no comparable data available for antisemitic hate crimes in upstate New York.
Synagogues and other Jewish institutions have been targeted in the wave of hate crimes. On Friday, bomb threats were made against 15 synagogues in New York State, including five in upstate areas.
The threats were made as part of a campaign intended to interrupt synagogue operations by forcing law enforcement to go to a location, and there did not appear to be any actual danger to the targets, said the director of the Jewish security group the Community Security Initiative, Mitch Silber.
“The bottom line is this: The safety of Jewish New Yorkers is non-negotiable,” Hochul said in the briefing. “Every act, whether it’s verbal or physical, any act of antisemitism is unacceptable, and undermining the public safety at our synagogue, on the first night of Hanukkah, is even more deplorable.”
“I remind everyone: As New Yorkers, this is not who we are. This must stop, ” she added. “We reject hate, antisemitism, Islamophobia. All hate crimes must stop, and all violence in every form must cease. We have no tolerance for these acts of evil that have now permeated our society.”
Ahead of questions, the briefing concluded with the lighting of Hanukkah candles, led by Eva Wyner, the state’s deputy director of Jewish affairs.
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