(JTA) — Days after Israel’s under-20 soccer team shocked the world with a third-place finish in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, another one of the country’s national teams is looking for international glory — this time in a sport played by few in Israel.
The 2023 World Lacrosse Men’s Championship begins on Wednesday in San Diego, and Israel is ranked seventh among the 30 teams. They were ranked second in Europe coming into the tournament.
Those rankings might surprise the average Israeli. Today, the Israel Lacrosse Association estimates that between 300 and 400 Israeli children and teens play the sport across the country, and that’s after over a decade of recruitment and youth development. Israel’s national lacrosse team is mostly made up of American-born Jews. The lacrosse association, based out of the Daniel Kraft Family National Lacrosse Center in Ashkelon, was founded by one American in 2010 and is currently run by another American.
But two of the 23 players on the national team are Israeli natives, and the women’s national team has one native Israeli, too — something Israel Lacrosse Executive Director Ian Kadish says is a meaningful increase in how the sport is spreading.
“We are now getting to a really exciting point in our organization where a lot of that leadership and a lot of that energy is coming from native-born Israelis,” Kadish told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Yakov Silberlicht, who is Israel Lacrosse’s director of youth development and the men’s team captain, pointed to another telling statistic: Israel’s under-21 men’s team, which competed in Ireland last summer, featured 19 native Israelis out of 23 players. And the women’s under-21 team, which is preparing for the U21 European Lacrosse Championships in Prague next month, is also almost entirely Israeli.
“That’s what gets me fired up and makes me tick and gets me out of bed every morning, is just opening that door and offering the opportunity to those young [Israeli] men and women to be able to play for our national teams,” said Silberlicht, who is also an American expat.
Even in areas where lacrosse is more prominent, such as Canada and the Northeast United States (which have combined to win every edition of the first 14 men’s world championships), it is still considered a niche sport compared to baseball, football and other major sports. According to a study by the Aspen Institute, 466,000 Americans aged 13-17 played lacrosse in 2019, compared to the more than 2 million who play baseball and the more than 3 million who play basketball.
David Wiseman, who tracks Israeli sports for his popular Facebook page Follow Team Israel, commended Israel Lacrosse for the progress it has made, including the opportunities it has opened up for female athletes.
“The fact that they can get it flourishing in Israel is remarkable,” he told JTA. “They’ve punched above their weight by like 3 million percent.”
Israel has also begun hosting international tournaments, including the 2018 men’s international championship and the 2019 Women’s European Championship. (During the 2018 men’s championship — the biggest-ever contest, with 46 participating teams — Israel offered free tours of Jerusalem to the teams and their delegations.)
Originally from Utica, New York, Silberlicht, 31, has lived in Israel for 10 years now. That was never part of his plan.
Growing up, he said he didn’t know much about Israel or have interest in visiting. But after he graduated from college in 2013, an opportunity to play lacrosse in Israel fell into his lap, and he went for it.
He started off coaching and playing for the national team in the 2014 championship, where Israel finished in seventh. What was initially intended to be a year-long stay turned into six more months and six more months after that, until eventually Silberlicht found himself staying permanently. He served in the Israel Defense Forces in a combat role from 2015 to 2017.
“My Jewish identity wasn’t super strong growing up. I think that that’s partially because something like Israel Lacrosse didn’t exist,” he said. “I didn’t want to go to Sunday school because I wanted to go play sports instead… Had I had something like [Israel Lacrosse] to relate to and to identify with, I think that it could have stuck a little bit more and been more meaningful to me.”
Kadish’s introduction to Israel Lacrosse was similar. Growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah, Kadish, 27, said he “could not have cared less” about Judaism or Israel. But as a college lacrosse player, he participated in a lacrosse-themed Birthright trip — which his organization still runs today.
“I had that transformational moment that how many kids have when they come and visit Israel, where I’m like, ‘Oh, wow, this is way different,’” Kadish recalled.
He extended his stay, founded a youth lacrosse team and began playing on the national team. Years later, he splits his time between the United States and Israel, and he runs the Israel Lacrosse Association. He too plays for the national team.
Kadish said he values the opportunity to “allow kids to form their own unique relationship with Judaism, with Israel, through their passion of sport.”
Much of the organization’s recruitment happens through grassroots efforts, including school visits, service trips and relentless outreach. Kadish acknowledged that they have to “work hard as hell” to overcome the predominance of soccer and basketball in Israel.
But 13 years into Israel Lacrosse’s existence, Kadish said it’s the progress that has been made in the organization’s youth engagement that he is most proud of — more so than a No. 2 ranking in Europe and the hosting of international competitions in Israel.
“When you’re on a lacrosse field in Israel with all these kids running around just being kids, you’re like, ‘okay, this is what matters, this is why I do this,’” Kadish said. “When I see a young Israeli kid who I physically put the stick in his or her hand for the first time at the school visit, and now that player is on the sideline, coaching other kids in Hebrew — you see this full-circle moment.”
In other international arenas — namely baseball — Israeli teams have attempted to recruit the most talented American Jews they can find to compete on behalf of Israel, regardless of the players’ past connections to Israel. In lacrosse, Kadish said they try to avoid that tactic. While much of the team is American-born, Kadish said he seeks people who have spent time living in Israel and are committed to the organization’s work.
“What is at the core of our mission? What is Israel lacrosse about? It’s about developing the sport of lacrosse in Israel,” he said. “And it’s about engaging the Jewish Diaspora. If you haven’t helped us, if you haven’t been a part of those things, I’m not sure you deserve the right to play on Team Israel.”
Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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