(JTA) — One of Abigail Levy’s most powerful Jewish memories comes from a family Passover celebration when she was a child. In keeping with the tradition of searching for the afikomen, someone hid a broken piece of matzah and set her and the other children loose to find it.
“It got a little heated,” she recalled. “I ended up with a giant welt on my forehead.”
Levy’s competitive spirit then foreshadowed her career today, including her willingness to take lumps in pursuit of a win: She’s a professional ice hockey player, a goaltender in the brand-new Professional Women’s Hockey League, which took the ice for the first time on Jan. 1.
Levy is the backup goalie for PWHL New York, one of six teams in the new league, which like the others is named for the city where it plays. It’s an outcome that Levy, 23, could not have imagined while growing up in Congers, New York, about an hour north of the city in Rockland County.
“I never knew girls played hockey,” she said during a practice this week.
Her journey to the sport began as a spectator, watching her brother play. But by the time she was 10, Levy wanted in on the action. She asked her father Justin if she could join a team, and he said yes without hesitation.
Levy first played on boys’ teams in the New York City area. When she was 12, she met her best friend, Emma Kee, at hockey camp, and the pair made the trek to Minnesota to attend Shattuck-St. Mary’s School, a boarding school known for its hockey program.
Levy said her dad would visit on weekends, bringing his New York Jewish humor with him. “My dad is the biggest jokester on the planet,” she said. Still, being away from home didn’t come easy to Levy.
“When I was away from home in Minnesota for prep school, I realized life is not all about hockey, it’s about who’s around you, too,” she said. “I had to find a family within this group in order to play my best, and I know that everyone else around me has to do the same thing. Because all these girls are living away from home.”
Levy has carried the importance of family — real and chosen — with her ever since.
She spent her first two years of college playing for Minnesota State University, then transferred to Boston College. There, she was just a few hours away from Jewish holiday celebrations with her family, including her four siblings. The experience remains the strongest element of her Jewish identity.
“My parents definitely tried to teach me around the holidays,” she said. “But I think as a kid I was a little brat sometimes. I definitely just stuck with hockey and that was probably always on my mind. And now growing up, I’ll probably have to go back and look more into the religion.”
Levy set program records at both schools she attended. Playing for Boston College as a graduate student in 2022-2023, Levy was a semifinalist for the National Goalie of the Year award, and her .947 save percentage was the second-best in the country and set a single-season record at the school.
Levy was the third-string goalie on the U.S. Women’s National Team that won the gold medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s 2023 Women’s World Championship, though she did not appear in a game during the tournament.
When New York recruited Levy to join their roster ahead of the 2024 season, it was as much for for her reputation as an exemplary teammate as it was her skill on the ice.
“We like the person she is. We like the way that she takes care of herself and takes care of her teammates,” New York general manager Pascal Daoust told JTA. Levy was selected 64th overall in the 11th round of the PWHL draft in September and signed a one-year contract.
Abbey Levy is bringing a big style of play to the big city!
— PWHL (@thepwhlofficial) November 12, 2023
“There’s nothing to manage with her,” Daoust said. “We all know that goalies have their very own world or routine,” but Levy takes time to process feedback and listen as much as she talks, he added.
Daoust also hailed Levy’s consistency at the net.
“Sometimes a goalie is great one hour and not the next,” Daoust said. “You’re left to wonder, who’s going to be in the net?” But when Levy allows a goal, she recovers right away, he said.
As a teammate, Levy is known for her relaxed and supportive demeanor.
“Abbey is a very calm and chill presence in the dressing room. Nothing really fazes her,” said Lindsey Post, a fellow goaltender on the New York team. “She’s fun to be around. When we’re in the gym together, we’re always laughing. Same with on the ice, so she’s just a good goalie partner to have. We like to support each other all around along this road.”
Levy said building relationships with her teammates off the rink is critical to their success on it.
“I understand how to be friends with women, how we work, and how to push someone to do their best,” she said. “I know that will make our team so much better, because women care about things outside of the rink, as well as in the rink.”
“It’s just the little things on the ice like being valued and someone coming up to you and going out of their way and saying, ‘hey, you did great there,’” Levy continued. “And then off ice, hanging out together and inviting each other out to things.”
Playing in New York, Levy knows she’s fortunate to be close to her family. But for her teammates — many of whom hail from Canada — it can be isolating to play so far from home.
“Regardless of your age, you still need that family and support,” she said. “I get to go home every day to my family in New York. But some of these girls, they don’t. They live alone. So it’s just being that person to say, ‘how are you doing today?’ Or, ‘hey, nice shot.’ I think this is a huge part of hockey.”
Alex Carpenter, a forward who serves as the team’s alternate captain, also praised Levy for her presence on the squad.
“She’s not your stereotypical goalie,” Carpenter told JTA. “She’s pretty relaxed and chill on game days and even practice days. So it’s a lot of fun getting to interact with her more in the professional setting.”
While the PWHL is in its early days, Levy said she appreciates the role she plays as a Jewish athlete, especially as a model for young Jewish girls. There are at least two other Jewish women who play in the league: Boston’s team features defender Kaleigh Fratkin and goalie Aerin Frankel.
“For male athletes, it’s a bit different,” Levy said. “But at least for the women’s game, what I’ve noticed is hockey really is for all of us. Everyone’s very proud.”
The post Meet Abbey Levy, rising Jewish star in the brand new Professional Women’s Hockey League appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
IDF Announces Major Eyal Shuminov Killed by Anti-Tank Missile in Gaza
i24 News – During a raid on Gaza’s Zeytun neighborhood, Major Eyal Shuminov of the Givati Brigade was tragically killed by an anti-tank missile.
The incident occurred when IDF forces identified a Hamas terrorist on the roof of a building and subsequently eliminated him.
Major Shuminov, a company commander in the Shaked Battalion (424) of the Givati Brigade, hailed from Karmiel and was just 24 years old at the time of his death. The IDF announced that he fell in battle on the 24th of Adar HaSphad (February 24, 2024).
His death marks the loss of 238 IDF soldiers since the start of the ground invasion in Gaza.
Following his death, Major Shuminov was posthumously promoted from the rank of captain to the rank of major. The IDF has extended its condolences to Major Shuminov’s family and pledged to continue supporting them during this difficult time.
The post IDF Announces Major Eyal Shuminov Killed by Anti-Tank Missile in Gaza first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Netanyahu: Cabinet Will Vote on Rafah Operation Next Week
i24 News – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has revealed plans for a cabinet meeting next week to finalize the Israeli Defense Forces’ (IDF) strategy for an operation in Rafah, including the evacuation of civilians from the area.
The decision comes amid ongoing negotiations with Hamas regarding the release of hostages held by the militant group.
In a statement posted on social media platform X on Saturday, Netanyahu emphasized the importance of reaching a new framework for the release of hostages and the completion of the elimination of Hamas battalions in Rafah. He underscored the necessity of a combination of military pressure and diplomatic negotiations to achieve these objectives.
“We are working to obtain another outline for the release of our hostages, as well as the completion of the elimination of the Hamas battalions in Rafah. That is why I sent a delegation to Paris, and tonight, we will discuss the next steps in the negotiations,” Netanyahu stated in his post.
אנו פועלים להשיג מתווה נוסף לשחרור חטופינו, וכן את השלמת חיסול גדודי החמאס ברפיח.
לכן שלחתי משלחת לפריז ונדון הערב בצעדים הבאים במו״מ,
ולכן בתחילת השבוע אכנס את הקבינט לאישור התוכניות המבצעיות לפעולה ברפיח, כולל פינוי האוכלוסייה האזרחית משם.
רק שילוב של לחץ צבאי ומשא ומתן תקיף…
— Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) February 24, 2024
The prime minister’s announcement signals a significant escalation in Israel’s approach to the ongoing conflict, with plans for a potential military operation in Rafah gaining momentum.
Netanyahu concluded his statement by reaffirming the government’s determination to achieve its goals in the war, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive strategy that combines military action with diplomatic efforts.
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IDF Chief of Staff: Fighting is Key for Negotiating Hostages’ Release
i24 News – In a recent assessment of the situation in the northern Gaza Strip, the Chief of Staff, alongside other military commanders, emphasized the crucial role of the ongoing fighting effort in negotiations for the release of abducted individuals.
During the assessment, which took place on Saturday, the Chief of Staff, accompanied by Major General Yaron Finkelman, commander of the Southern Command, and Lieutenant Colonel Itzik Cohen, commander of Division 162, discussed the progress and strategy in the conflict zone.
The Chief of Staff’s remarks shed light on the multifaceted approach being taken to deepen military achievements in the region. He highlighted the importance of returning to areas with improved intelligence to make more significant advancements, both tactically and strategically.
These efforts, he noted, not only target enemy combatants but also aim to dismantle infrastructure and clear territories to enhance operational effectiveness.
Addressing the ongoing negotiations for the release of abductees, the Chief of Staff emphasized the interconnectedness between military achievements and diplomatic endeavors. He underscored the pivotal role of the fighting effort in exerting pressure on Hamas, thereby potentially facilitating the release of kidnapped individuals.
“The fighting effort is the most effective action that helps those who carry and give in all kinds of places for the release of the kidnapped,” stated the Chief of Staff. “This is the lever we are taking down on Hamas, and you are taking it down very well.”
The Chief of Staff’s remarks underscore the complex interplay between military operations and diplomatic negotiations in conflict zones. While the focus remains on achieving military objectives, there is also a recognition of the broader strategic goals, including the safe return of abducted individuals.
The post IDF Chief of Staff: Fighting is Key for Negotiating Hostages’ Release first appeared on Algemeiner.com.