Don Cherry and Ron Maclean on screen, in 2018. (photo by Ross Dunn/flickr.com)
For many Canadians, Don Cherry and his bombastic pronouncements about hockey, but, more importantly, about society and whatever pops into his head, have been like a tolerated, occasionally amusing uncle at the family table. An opinionated crank who seems like a throwback to an earlier, less refined time, Cherry has been coming into our living rooms for decades, part and parcel with our national pastime.
But there’s a limit.
Cherry was finally told to leave the family table Monday after a rant about “you people” – new Canadians, immigrants or, as people of his inclination might characterize them, “foreigners.”
“You people … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that,” Cherry said on Hockey Night in Canada last Saturday, two days before Remembrance Day. His implication was that new Canadians do not wear poppies or perhaps do so in lesser numbers than Canada-born Canadians. The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council was inundated and paralyzed on the weekend by complaints from viewers. On Remembrance Day, Sportsnet, which broadcasts the program, pulled the plug.
Cherry was unrepentant: “I know what I said and I meant it. Everybody in Canada should wear a poppy to honour our fallen soldiers.”
But that wasn’t the context of what he said. His implication was clear: immigrants take the benefits of life in Canada but do not respect the sacrifices that built the country or those who made them. That’s a far different – and more xenophobic – thing than saying everyone should wear a poppy.
Already, of course, social media grumps and trolls are declaring this the latest case of “political correctness” run amok, akin to taking “all thy sons command” out of the national anthem and all the other modernizations that threaten the hegemony of the geezer class.
Times change. People adapt or they don’t. But there are consequences in either case.
“To keep my job, I cannot be turned into a tamed robot,” said Cherry.
The original cast of Glory. (photo by Barbara Zimonick)
I hope Glory inspires audience members to look up the Preston Rivulettes and learn how amazingly driven, committed, skilled and bad-ass these female hockey players were,” Advah Soudack told the Independent.
The Rivulettes were entered into the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame in 1963. According to the website of the Rivulettes Junior Hockey Club, “The team played an estimated 350 games between 1930 and 1940, tying three and losing only two. In that 10-year span, the Rivulettes were 10 times the winners of the Bobbie Rosenfeld Trophy that was presented each year to the champions of Ontario. They were also six-time winners of the Eastern Canadian championship and the Elmer Doust Cup that went with it. They won the trophy each time they competed for it. The team’s crowning achievement was capturing the Lady Bessborough Trophy as Canadian champions no less than six times.”
“Their determination, their courage, their fight and their passion” were what inspired Tracey Power to write Glory, which starts its touring run March 29-30 at Kay Meek Arts Centre in West Vancouver.
Power was also interested in 1930s Canada, which “presented many personal challenges, a national depression, the growth of international hatred that would ultimately become the Second World War, and how those international relations greatly affected Canadian multicultural relations, antisemitism and sexism, to name just a few.
“Through hard times,” she said, “we often turn to sport or entertainment for escape, for community and for strength. For me, the women on this team and their coach represented not just a team of hockey players, but a country fighting to survive.”
Glory premièred last year, and the touring production brings with it some changes, including two new actors, Andrew Wheeler as the team’s coach, Herb Fach, and Soudack as the character Marm Schwartz.
“The choreography grows and strengthens with every run,” said Power of other changes. “I’m a huge believer in trying new ideas, and the more detailed we can be in our storytelling, the more exciting it will be for our audience. There may be some new text ideas that come out of rehearsal. I’m always open to a new play exploring new territory each time we go back into rehearsal.”
Kate Dion-Richard reprises her role as Helen Schwartz.
“Tracey reached out to me a couple of years ago to play the part of Helen in a workshop and reading for the show,” said Dion-Richard. “A few months after the workshop, I auditioned formally for the role. That included reading a couple of scenes, as well as taking part in a group dance call. The dance was a new style of ‘swing-skate’ that Tracey had created, which incorporated swing dance moves of the 1930s with hockey skills and plays.”
It is not an accident that Jewish community members have been cast as the real-life Jewish sisters.
“Marm struggles with being able to get the education she wants because of quotas universities had at the time; she fights back against antisemitism and must find ways to deal with her anger both on the ice and off. Helen is confident in her femininity and struggles to figure out how such an aggressive sport fits within the expected view of a woman of that time. It has always been important to me to have Jewish actors play these roles,” explained Power.
“During the development of the play,” she said, “the conversations we had were instrumental in bringing the characters’ truths to the stage. I am not Jewish, but it’s my duty as the playwright to understand the souls and bones of these women and what they went through. I’m extremely thankful to Kate Dion-Richard, Gili Roskies [who played Marm last year] and Advah Soudack for being so open and honest with me about their own Jewish history.
“Bobbie Rosenfeld was one of the most famous Canadian athletes of the 1920s/30s,” she added. “She was an Olympic gold medalist and, among many other sports, played hockey for the Toronto Pats. She inspired many women to follow their athletic dreams – including Hilda Ranscombe, who was the Hayley Wickenheiser of the Preston Rivulettes – and, much like Marm, she also fought against antisemitism in her sport and life.”
“The awareness of, frustration and personal experience with antisemitism are a big part of Marm’s storyline and journey in this show,” said Soudack. “I personally have not experienced the extent of antisemitism that Marm experiences in this story, however, my close family members have, and I can understand and imagine what it would be like. I feel that I bring my strong sense of Jewish identity to the role of Marm, with all its deep-rooted traditions and expectations. I also share and connect with the concern and, at times, discomfort Marm feels with being Jewish in a world where antisemitism lingers right around the corner.”
Dion-Richard, whose Jewish side of the family is from London, England, grew up hearing stories of living through the war from her grandparents. “Those stories stay with me and in many ways is why this role is so close to home,” she said. “Although Helen is Canadian, the antisemitism felt in Canada in the 1930s was strong and I am able to connect to that through my family’s experiences. Also, on a lighter note, I married a man who isn’t Jewish and so did my character, so that’s a nice similarity.”
And there are other connections for Dion-Richard, who was a hockey fan before taking on this show. “My large extended family of Richards are huge Montreal Canadiens fans due to our distant cousin Maurice Richard (‘The Rocket’),” she shared, “and I grew up on the West Coast, so the Canucks were frequently on the television at home. I have definitely become more of a fan since doing this show – especially of women’s hockey. The Canadian women’s team is incredible and I’d love to meet them and chat about their experiences as women in a traditionally male-dominated sport. I’d also love to know if they know about the Rivulettes!”
Soudack admitted to not having been much of a hockey fan before she started her research and work on Glory. “My husband is a big fan, so I always hear him talking about it, and get dragged onto his computer to watch videos of amazing plays and goals,” she said. However, since Glory, she has become more interested in the game. “I recently went to Thunderbird Stadium to watch the UBC Women’s Hockey playoffs,” she said. “Their commitment, drive and talent were inspiring. I was moved to tears as I sat there, thinking of Hilda, Nellie [Ranscombe], Marm and Helen, realizing and deeply understanding why they loved the game so much.”
About sports and the relevance of the Rivulettes’ experiences for today’s audiences, Soudack said, “It still feels the same, in regard to women not having the same opportunities and not really being seen as equals to men in athletic ability. I find it sad that young girls can fall in love with a sport and be exceptional at it, like Hilda Ranscombe; however, there is no future career they can look toward. Once the war was over, women’s opportunity to play sports vanished, whereas the men’s opportunities and careers took off.”
“Women not only had to fight for ice time – often having to play and practise in the very early hours or very late hours of the day; essentially when the men didn’t need the ice – but they also had to fight to be taken seriously,” said Dion-Richard. “Many of the reports of the women’s hockey games included remarks about the apparent lack of femininity within the game and some even questioned the sex of the players because of how aggressive the women were. Also, women were unable to be professional hockey players. The men were paid and the women weren’t. As a woman living in 2019, I still see the need to fight for equality with pay, representation and respect.”
“I’d love to add that this show has something for everyone,” said Dion-Richard. “The Canadian history is so important to know, as well as the fight for respect and equality that these women pushed for. They really paved the way for all of us and I hope we can show how grateful we are to them for that. This is a show that could be a link for people who don’t normally go to the theatre. It fuses sport and theatre with Canadian history, and the story is as relevant today as it was in the 1930s.”
רבים מתושבי קנדה משאירים את מקלות ההוקי שלהם מחוץ לביתם לאות הזדהות עם קבוצת המבולדט ברונקוס. (צילום: Andrew Scheer)
תאונת הדרכים מהקשות בתולדות קנדה: שישה עשר הרוגים מרביתם שחקני הוקי צעירים וארבעה עשר נוספיםנפצעו
קנדה חוותה בראשית החודש (ה-6 באפריל) את אחת מתאונות הדרכים הקשות ביותר בתולדות המדינה, עת נמנו שישה עשר הרוגים, וארבעה עשר נפצעו מרביתם קשה, כאשר אחת מהפצועות נפטרה מפציעותיה. כל זאת כתוצאה מהתנגשות חזיתית בין אוטובוס של קבוצת ההוקי המבולדט ברונקוס, שהכיל עשרים ותשעה נוסעים: עשרים וארבעה שחקנים צעירים (בגילאי 16-21), ארבעה מלווים בהם טראפיסטית והנהג, לבין משאית עם סמי-טריילר. התאונה התרחשה בצומת חשוכה של בכביש המהיר 35 באזור צפון מזרח של מחוז סיסקצ’ואן. במקום קרו כבר תאונות בעבר אך עד עתה לא בוצעו עבודות לשיפור המצב של הצומת.
מבין שש עשרה ההרוגים: עשרה הם שחקנים, מאמן הקבוצה (42), עוזר מאמן הקבוצה (28), סטטיסטיקאי של הקבוצה (18), הטראפיסטית של הקבוצה (24, שהייתה כאמור אחת מהפצועות הקריטיות ונפטרה בינתיים מהפציעה), עיתונאי מקומי (29) והנהג (59). שלושה מהפצועים שוחררו כך שעשרה פצועים נמצאים עדיין בבית החולים, בהם שניים במצב קריטי והשאר במצב קשה עד בינוני. בסוף השבוע החולף החל מסע הלוויות של שישה עשר הרוגי התאונה הקשה. חמש עשרה הלוויות נערכות בהמבולדט (עיירה קטנה בת ששת אלפים תושבים) ומחוז, והלוויה נוספת תתקיים באלברטה.
שחקני הוקי של המבולדט ברונקוס (הקבוצה נוסדה בשנת 1970) היו אמורים להשתתף במשחק חצי גמר, במסגרת הפליאוף בהוקי לצעירים של אזור מערב קנדה. כל ההרוגים והפצועים שהו באוטובוס, ולעומת זאת נהג הסמי-טריילר לא נפצע. הוא זוכה לטיפול נפשי צמוד בשלב זה. הנהג עבד רק שבועיים בחברת ההובלה שהיא הבעלים של הסמי-טריילר. משרדי החברה נמצאים בקלגרי ובבעלותה שתי משאיות בלבד. שר התחבורה של מחוז אלבטרה הודיע כי בשלב זה רשיון התפעול של חברת ההובלה הושעה. וזאת עד לברור נסיבות התאונה המדוברת.
נשיא קבוצת המבולדט ברונקוס, קווין גרינגר, הוציא הודעה קצרה לעיתונות בעקבות התאונה הקשה: “מחשבותינו ותפילותינו עם המשפחות של העובדים והספורטאים שלנו, כמו גם עם כל מי שהושפע ונפגע מהטרגדיה הנוראה הזו. משפחת ברונקוס שלנו שרויה בהלם כאשר אנו מנסים לעכל את האובדן המדהים שלנו”.
גם ראש ממשלת קנדה, ג’סטין טרודו, הגיב על האירוע הקשה, באמצעות חשבון הטוויטר שלו: “אני לא יכול לתאר לעצמי מה עובר עתה על משפחות וההורים של הנפגעים. ליבי יוצא לכל אלה שנפגעו בטרגדיה הנוראה הזו, בקהילת המבולדט ומעבר לה”.
אחד מהשחקנים שנהרגו תאונה זו, לוגן בולט, תרם את איבריו להצלת חיים של לא פחות משישה חולים קשים. לאור זאת קמפיין תרומות האיברים ברחבי קנדה זוכה מעתה לתשומת לב רבה, ומספר האזרחים שמוכנים לתרום את האיברים שלהם להצלת אחרים גדל משמעותית מראשית החודש.
במקביל מספר התרומות הכספיות לטובת המשפחות השכולות ומשפחות הנפגעים גדל בהתמדה כל הזמן. את הפרוייקט התחילה תושבת המבולדט, סילביה קלינגטון, והוא זכה להתייחסות בכל העולם. בסוף השבוע האחרון מספר התרומות הגיעו כבר ליותר מאחד עשר מיליון דולר. יותר ממאה ועשרים אלף איש מרחבי העולם (מלמעלה משמונים מדינות), תרמו כספים למטרה חשובה. זאת באמצעות אתר ‘גו פאנד מי’. מדובר בקמפיין התרומות הגדול ביותר של האתר בקנדה, והשלישי בגודלו מאז הוא נוסד. צפוי שמספר התרומות הכספיות ימשיך לגדול עוד ועוד.
יצויין עוד שרבים רבים מתושבי קנדה משאירים את מקלות ההוקי שלהם מחוץ לביתם לאות הזדהות עם קבוצת המבולדט ברונקוס והאסון הכבד שקרה לה ולעיירה המבולדט.
In 2012, Avi Dunkelman and his business partner, Joseph Gault, won a five-year contract from Canada Post to create a postage stamp series celebrating 100 years of the National Hockey League. (image from Avi Dunkelman)
It was as if he had come full circle, when Israeli-born Avi Dunkelman won a five-year contract from Canada Post in 2012 to create a postage stamp series celebrating 100 years of the NHL, focusing on the seven Canadian teams in the league.
Dunkelman was born in Haifa in 1954 and, at an early age, started collecting the stamps from the postcards his father sent him on his travels in Europe. The stamps gave Dunkelman a great appreciation for graphic design, so much so that he opted to go to art school.
“After I finished my military service, I decided to see if I could get some work in graphic design,” he told the Independent. “I soon realized that what I had learned in high school was not enough. I needed to study this very seriously in order to make a career out of it.”
Dunkelman first thought to pursue his studies in the United States but, as all of his mother’s family lived in Toronto, he chose to go there to study for a year. During this time, he also worked on improving his English language skills, with the intention of continuing his studies in the States.
Three weeks after he arrived, in 1977, he was attending Ontario College of Art and Design. He then pursued a post-graduate degree in Switzerland, at one of the top graphic design schools in the world at the time – they only accepted eight students per year.
In 1984, he made his way back to Toronto and got married, opening his own graphic design firm in 1986, called Avi Dunkelman Design Group. In 1987, he began teaching at Ontario College of Art and Design, where he has worked ever since – he’ll be celebrating 30 years there this spring.
“In 2010, I formed a partnership with my business partner, Joseph Gault, who studied with me in Switzerland,” said Dunkelman. “We’ve known each other for 37 years, and decided to form a creative partnership under the brand of Mix Design Group.
“We were invited to compete in designing the stamp for the Year of the Snake in 2011 – we won four design awards for it. In 2012, we were asked to compete on a five-year project celebrating or commemorating the 100th anniversary of the NHL. We submitted our design concept and we won the competition.”
Over the five years, Dunkelman and Gault designed 69 stamps, 32 first editions, about 15 booklets, and all kinds of other materials. It is the largest program that Canada Post has ever tasked.
Dunkelman did not grow up with hockey in Haifa. Instead, soccer was the sport of choice. He recalled, “I saw a glimpse of hockey, but never got to really understand the game like some Canadians do. I don’t know how to skate.
“My business partner is a hockey buff. His father was actually a professional hockey player in Scotland. He’s Canadian-born and grew up playing hockey with his father coaching him. He knows a lot more than I do.
“I think that the fact that I look at it from a layman’s perspective gives us an advantage … looking at things in a different way. And this is what my contribution to this project is.
“The way we work is we sit and brainstorm some ideas,” he said. “Then, we work independently on some ideas, designs, get together, analyze them, and decide what works and what doesn’t.”
One of the biggest challenges for Dunkelman was working with six different player photos at a time, editing them so that they work seamlessly together.
“That’s a challenging process,” he said. “If you look at the photograph on the stamp and the original, they sometimes look totally different.”
Over his more than 30-year career, Dunkelman has had to learn how to incorporate computers into the design process. The first computers came onto the scene as he graduated from the school in Switzerland and Dunkelman recalled that one of his teachers received four computers from Steve Jobs as a gift. While not so useful at the time – it was the mid-1980s – as software and computers developed further, Dunkelman began using them in his design process.
“Obviously, I had to adapt to computers, as the technology was growing, too, and going through its own growing pains,” he said. “I’d say I’m not unique in that. I think most designers had to do the same thing. When I was starting out on computers, Photoshop wasn’t around … wasn’t as complex and sophisticated as it is now. So, there were a few things I was integrating at the same time … taking an image, doing something, printing it, re-photographing it, re-modifying it, going back and forth between the computer and the work table.
“By the way, that’s part of the way I teach at school now … because my message to the younger generation is that the computer is not the answer for everything. The idea is not to develop a dependency on it. Depending on the nature of the project and what the opportunities present you with, even today, there are certain things to do in an analogue way.”
Dunkelman works with a production person. “I don’t have the time to get the ins and outs of every little update of software coming my way,” he said. “I try to keep up, but, to do this effectively, I’d need to devote my entire time to it. It’s not feasible for me.”
According to Dunkelman, graphic design has changed a lot in the computer era, opening up opportunities for more people to be in the industry. However, he said, “It’s a little disappointing to me how graphic design in general is going back. A lot of things look the same because people are using the same software, the same tools, fonts and colours. Especially with website design being template-oriented … it’s becoming more about information management and data management, as opposed to creating.”
Dunkelman has a long list of clients, including the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Royal Canadian Mint, the University of Toronto and many private companies.
“Right now, I split my time between teaching and working,” he said. “Going forward, the professional work I’m doing is probably going to slowly diminish by choice, while still teaching and being a mentor for the next generation.
“This is one of the things I’m focusing on for my students – mentoring them to a point where I still keep a strong connection with former students who seek advice. They know I’m always available, open and willing to help. This is what I really enjoy seeing – the next generation and my former students getting ahead in their own careers and taking charge of the industry … hopefully, to become leaders.”
I’ve never really been able to meditate. At least not in the formal way most people depict meditation. There have been no ohhmmmm moments for this guy.
Oh, I’ve tried – with the most patient teacher I’ve ever known. But “calm” doesn’t seem to help me clear my mind. It actually opens the door for every possible thought to prance around like they own the place. Instead of walking out of a meditation session with a sense of peace, I’d walk out with a long to-do list of things I just remembered I had to do.
That said, several years ago I realized that I do have meditation’s version of a best friend (for me anyway) … ice hockey! While going through a challenge-filled time in my life I discovered that no matter what was going on in my noggin all day, the moment I stepped onto the ice to compete my mind immediately focused on one thing and one thing only – the game in front of me. My focus became singular for that minute or so shift.
I mean, who has room to think about stresses at work or home when your heart is being pushed to 170 bpm while being chased down the ice by a 235 lb dude on sharp blades? I was grateful I had that escape.
I found that kind of focus again recently when I took on the infamous Grouse Grind – Greater Vancouver’s natural supplement for addicts of torture and misery.
Prior to this summer I had avoided the Grind for several years. With the exception of the cold beer that awaited at the top, I never enjoyed a darn thing about past climbs. However, now 25 lbs lighter and in much better shape than I was in my “why can’t we have nachos for breakfast?” days, I was actually looking forward to seeing how it felt this time around.
OK, well, it still seemed like a fairly torturous way to spend a Sunday morning (you were expecting me to love it, weren’t you!?). I pushed myself hard enough that throughout the final quarter I wasn’t sure if I’d die of an exploding chest or simply by passing out and falling backwards.
However, guided by pride (rather than beer), I creamed my old times with a solid 46-minute scamper. Aside from the personal sense of accomplishment and still-functioning lungs, what I really took from my excursion up Grouse Mountain was that discovery of another personal form of meditation.
Not more than 10 steps into the trek, my mind narrowed in on two simple things until the very end. I saw only the next step/rock I needed to take and heard only my breath – I don’t even remember the music playing in my headphones.
For 46 minutes I thought of nothing except what was right in front of me and the life that ran through my body.
I do wish I could find such life clarity in a less strenuous environment from time to time – say, bearing down on a bowl of chicken wings or buying shoes (don’t judge) – but I think it’s important for everyone to find their meditative niche and connect with it when time permits. Despite complete exhaustion and tight quads, I came off of the mountain feeling mentally refreshed in a way I hadn’t been in a long time.
Go out and find your cup of refreshing ohmmmmm. It’ll be worth it!
Canucks alum Eddie Hatoum, originally from Lebanon, with several Arab Israeli athletes. (photo from Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver)
Anyone who caught a glimpse of the 20 young hockey players during their week-long training camp in Vancouver March 4-10 probably didn’t think much of it. That is until they looked a little closer and saw the Canada Israel Hockey School (CIHS) logo all over their jerseys, jackets and bags.
In a joint venture of the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver and the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, the 10-to-14-year-old boys and girls were hosted by local families, trained by special guest coaches, toured around the city and treated to an unforgettable night by the Vancouver Canucks.
Aside from its being a hockey school in a country where that sport is as foreign as olive trees are to Vancouver, CIHS is also special for using hockey as a cultural bridge: half the participants touring Vancouver were Jewish and half Arab. Here are a few stories that stood out from the week-long adventure.
Skate like NHLers: After arriving late the night before, the kids wasted no time hitting the ice at the Richmond Olympic Oval. Their first practice was led by Barb Adelbaum, power skating consultant for the Vancouver Canucks and various NHL players around the league. After taking them through some skating drills, Adelbaum noted that many of them had dull skate blades. She connected the team with Cyclone Taylor Sports in Vancouver and arranged to have all 20 pairs of skates sharpened, as well as a much-needed new stick for one of the goalies.
KDHS meets CIHS: On day two, thanks to a Purim-themed professional development day at King David High School, several hockey-playing students from the high school joined the CIHS kids on the ice. Instead of playing against each other, each team was formed from members of both schools, which made for a spirited community game.
Flying like a Raven: When the JCC found out that the CIHS squad included two girls, talks began with the Richmond Ravens Girls Hockey Association on bringing them all together. The Ravens happily obliged, donating one of their ice times to a scrimmage and practice with the Israelis. After fitting the two Israeli girls into Ravens jerseys, a boys versus girls game was played.
All they have is love: Sunday afternoon was spent touring the city. The group walked along the water from Granville Island to Kitsilano Beach. As they approached the beach, Virgin Radio was there, with a large balloon-like ball with “LOVE” written on it, offering folks the chance to be photographed with it. As the Israeli kids swarmed for their photo, the radio station reps were told of the special meaning behind the Jewish and Arab group, standing shoulder to shoulder, symbolizing the love of a game and being a team overcoming other boundaries.
CIHS meet JCC hockey: The Israeli athletes had the opportunity to see what Jewish community hockey was all about in Vancouver. They took in one of the final regular season games of the JCC’s Adult Ice Hockey League, providing a cheering section the local weekend warriors weren’t used to. After the game, the students had their chance to show the JCC league the skills they had brought from Israel, and to play a little hockey with them. Led by the generosity of Daniel and Ariel Wosk, several members of the JCC league donated money for new equipment for the CIHS players (more to come on that below). The Wosk brothers had visited CIHS in February 2014 as part of a hockey team tour and wanted to be involved when the Israelis came to Vancouver.
“The joy and passion that [Jewish] and Arab children were exhibiting together was a sign that with the right influences and opportunities there could be a better future there,” said Ariel. “When we heard that some of the kids were coming to Vancouver, we knew that we wanted to do something for them.”
“A highlight for me was not knowing who was who on the ice, yet their teamwork was excellent,” added Daniel of his time playing with the kids here. “It’s awesome to see their relationships grow in a positive direction … [that] will translate into their daily lives.”
The final day: The last full day of the CIHS visit had more highlights than an evening news report.
The morning started on the ice, with two members of the Vancouver Canucks Alumni Association as guest coaches, along with local hockey pro and JCC member Harrison May and his brother Kevin.
One of the alum, Eddie Hatoum, was born in Beirut and still speaks Arabic at home. Upon arriving and learning of the mix of the CIHS athletes, he entered the locker room and asked, “Who speaks Arabic?” in his native tongue. Half the room raised their hands with huge smiles on their faces. “We’ve done a lot of work with young groups as the Canucks alumni, but this really warms my heart,” Hatoum said, also smiling. “When I tell my siblings in Ottawa that I got on the ice with these kids, they won’t believe it.”
Hatoum was joined at the practice by B.J. (Blair) McDonald, who once scored 46 goals playing with Wayne Gretzky in the early 1980s.
After the practice, the group headed to Sports Exchange in Vancouver for a shopping spree. With the money from the JCC hockey league players in hand, along with several donations and great deals from the store managers, the team packed six bags’ worth of brand-new gear. The kids also had a chance to pick up some items of their own that they can’t get in Israel.
While it seemed almost impossible for the day to get any better, the CIHS kids and several of their host family friends were treated to an evening with the Canucks that started with a meeting with team president Trevor Linden and chief operating officer Victor de Bonis. De Bonis led the group on a tour of the facility in advance of the Canucks versus Anaheim Ducks game, which they watched from a hospitality suite, where they were offered a buffet dinner and all the popcorn they could eat. Visits to the suite from Adelbaum, McDonald, de Bonis and Canucks mascot Fin topped it all off.
The trip continues: The group said goodbye to Vancouver and hello to a week in Calgary before heading back to Israel. Several JCC league players will meet the kids again next February at an annual recreational hockey tournament in Israel. The Vancouver squad, as usual, will get on the ice with the CIHS for a couple of practices and continue their friendship.
Kyle Bergeris Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver sports coordinator, and a freelance writer living in Richmond. For more information on this visit or future hockey trips to Israel, contact Berger at 604-638-7286.
The 15th annual Chutzpah! Festival of the Jewish Performing Arts concluded on Sunday with the group Diwan Saz. Their main message: music has no borders. And, “Don’t believe the news,” i.e. Israel is more than a conflict zone.
Yet, our brains are hardwired to find the negative in life. As one neuropsychologist writes, “the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.” It is no coincidence that the news the media mainly reports is bad. It not only titillates, but it sticks with us. However, there are good news stories, and they should not be dismissed as “fluff,” or as less significant than the “serious” news. On the contrary.
The arts are vital to our lives, as are sports and other cultural endeavors. They are not merely for entertainment or to escape from reality. Among other things, these pursuits encourage creativity and propel innovation, they nurture our souls and provide ways in which we can connect to each other. They can be catalysts for all types of change in the world, making people aware of issues they might not otherwise consider, bringing people together to speak out against injustice or in favor of peace, for example.
The multicultural Bedouin, Israeli Arab, Turkish, Jewish Israeli (Ashkenazi and Sephardi) group Diwan Saz, comprised of nine musicians, is a prime example of how people of different places, beliefs and backgrounds can live, play and travel together – by choice, and happily, enriched by one another’s friendship and musicianship.
Since its beginnings, Chutzpah! has shown how arts and culture can bring diverse people together. In recent years, Israeli performers have graced the cover of the Georgia Straight in its Chutzpah! coverage. What better ambassadors of Israeli and Jewish culture, and the cross-cultural possibilities of the Middle East?
This week’s JI cover stories provide another couple of examples.
Twenty kids from the Canada Israel Hockey School, a joint venture of the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver and the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, visited last week – Jewish Israeli, Arab Israeli, girls and boys, the hockey players see each other as teammates, playing for the love of the game. Not only are positive bonds and memories being formed among the players, but also between them and their coaches in Israel and in Vancouver, the local hockey players they met, both from the Jewish league and from the Canucks. Interviewed by CBC’s Shane Foxman, these kids were representing not just themselves, but the sport of hockey and their country of Israel – and they are cause for pride.
Sholom Scouts are also not “just” scouts. Not to put too much pressure on them, but they are Jewish ambassadors to the larger Scouts community as well as the general community. Within the Jewish community, they represent a spectrum of Jewish beliefs, all coming together to become good stewards of the land and good citizens.
It is healthy to see the negative: it helps us to be safe, to become aware of what isn’t quite right, what needs adjustment and what areas of justice still need to be pursued. As Leonard Cohen sings, “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” But, focusing exclusively on the negative – the crack instead of the light – isn’t healthy, not for ourselves personally or for society at large. This does not imply blocking out the reality of the suffering that does exist, but instead recognizing that we ignore the beauty, loving kindness and bright spots of reality to our detriment.
Whether it’s by being more mindful, cultivating more loving kindness, reducing stress and anxiety, re-balancing our middot, being open to new and challenging experiences or learning more about something that interests or concerns us, we can find more good. It takes time and effort to “hardwire happiness” in our brains and in our lives, but it’s possible.
It helps when we consciously draw out the positive, such as the stories mentioned here, and engage in the positive cultural and social behaviors that make us more than mere human animals, and more fully and happily human.
My new friends! A mixed group of Arab and Jewish kids playing hockey together in Israel.
I have to admit that it has been tough to concentrate on much these days with everything going on in Israel this month.
The country and people that I love – along with every Jew around the world – has been fighting a war of epic proportions. Both in Gaza and in the media.
As I have struggled to come to terms with the reality of how deeply rooted antisemitism currently is around the world and how gleefully willing many people are to remain ignorant and naive, I consider what I can do to contribute.
Sure, there are rallies and gatherings to attend, letters to be written to MPs, Facebook posts to share, all with hopes of spreading intelligent information and support for Israel. But I feel myself needing something more tangible to contribute to.
Those feelings and thoughts almost always take me to a program – or mission – I have already embraced the past few years I have visited Israel.
In the very northern tip of Israel, in Etzpah Hagalil – Vancouver’s P2G Partnership region, there is the lone full-sized (actually, Olympic-sized) hockey rink at Mercaz Canada (Canada Centre) in Metula. I have visited it the past three years to participate in the Israel Recreational Hockey Association Tournament (amazing event!) along with several local friends.
In 2013, while visiting, an Israeli friend told me about a new, growing program at the Canada Centre called the Canada-Israel Hockey School (CIHS). Merely 3 years old, CIHS already featured approximately 400 Israeli kids of all ages, wearing a mish-mosh of donated gear and Jerseys, learning to play Canada’s game.
Just watching these kids had already blown my mind. I was beyond enlightened when Coach Mike Mazeika, a non-Jewish Torontonian who has embraced Israeli culture in more ways than one, informed me that among those skaters was a complete mix of Jewish and Arab children. Hockey had brought Jewish teens who had never once spoken to an Arab teen, and vice-versa, together as teammates. Line mates. Eternal friends. And it was working!
Adding to that, I took a look around the stands and saw the parents of all these children cheering together. Ignoring, at least within this small group, decades of religious and political conflict since Israel had been born.
Hockey, Canada’s game, was doing this!
As I watched in awe I declared, “Someone has to document this!” To which Mazeika replied, “Actually, TSN was here a couple of weeks ago.” (see link below)
I was invited to come back and skate with the school before leaving Israel – an opportunity I called the coolest thing I had done on the ice. I returned home from that trip with a few new friends (Jewish, Christian and Druze) and a new commitment to use my role as the JCCGV’s sports coordinator to develop our community’s connection with the Canada-Israel Hockey School.
Team Vancouver returned this past February to an even larger hockey school as founder Levav Weinberg told me of their plans to reach out to even more communities around Israel.
We are currently working with Weinberg on plans to bring a group from CIHS on a Canadian tour with a key stop in Vancouver in the spring of 2015.
In the mean time, I will be returning in February, with whoever wants to join me, to represent Team Vancouver in the tournament (amazing experience as well!) and continue to develop our relationship with CIHS.
If you are hockey inclined and would like to join us to be part of something truly special in such a desperate time, there are always spots on our team!
Pursuing more of my “Love to Win” side at the 2014 Spartan Sprint obstacle race.
Call it ironic, but in my less-than-fit days I was a regular subscriber to Men’s Health magazine.
As I looked upon the cover of each fresh edition I sincerely believed (read: hoped) that this just might be the edition that unveils the ground-breaking discovery that Maple Walnut ice cream contained a fat-burning ingredient that could give me “six-pack abs by summer!”
I eventually decided to take a different route to improved fitness. While I can’t say I would credit Men’s Health for my success, there was one posting that left a long-lasting impression on me.
This specific article effectively split humanity into two simple groups.
Group 1: Those who love to win.
Group 2: Those who hate to lose.
Of course everyone prefers winning and, thus, would rather not lose. But most people, if they really think it through, can probably identify what fuels them more; the rush of victory or resentment toward loss.
It didn’t take me long to realize I was a hate-to-lose kind of dude. If my team, in any sport, was winning life seemed in order and under control. There was balance in the Force. But if we were losing my emotions would take over in an effort to avoid failure. I would walk away from any loss feeling frustrated, unsettled and pondering what I could have done to avoid it. I didn’t need to celebrate the wins as much as I needed to avoid the feeling of loss.
I embraced that discovery and used it to make me better. In hockey I became a defensive, shut-down centre, eventually turning to a pure defenseman where my emotional drive to avoid getting beat could feed my game. It proved to be a good move for my career (boy, do I use the word career lightly).
In the last couple of years, however, I considered if perhaps my friendship with the hate-to-lose side of me had led to complacency and, in some cases, boredom! (we’ll get to that nasty word in a later post)
Generally speaking, of course, hate-to-lose people might play the game of life a little on the safe side. They could miss out on hidden opportunities while choosing to avoid opportunities to test their limits. They are less likely to take risks or seek adventure. Their theory being, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The love-to-win type is ready to take those risks and fly by the seat of their pants for the possible thrill of success. On the flip side, they might take unnecessary risks, act without calculated consideration of consequence, risk losing a lot for the sake of winning a little. Their theory being, “Let’s break it ‘cause maybe we can rebuild it better.”
So which one is better? I could give you all sorts of analogies of how either approach has a proven track record of success.
But the key is to find out who you are and challenge yourself to bring the other element into your life a little more. I’ll use a hockey analogy (get used to it) to show you what I mean. It is commonly preached that “defense wins championships.” But it is also a fact that you can’t win the Stanley Cup without scoring goals. Even the defensemen need to contribute to the offense for a team to be a serious contender. More specifically, the great players who lead their teams to the big games are the ones who find the right balance of defense and offense. Those players aren’t born playing like that. They all enter the league with one style of play that has gotten them to where they are. Then they develop that balance over seasons of growth, experience and hard work. The most successful players develop their weaknesses to complement their strengths.
This is a concept we should all adopt for the sake of growth, inspiration and diversity. Whether you are more of a hate-to-lose or a love-to-win type, heighten your awareness to that and consider the areas of your life where a lack of balance has possibly challenged your growth or development. Then make the effort to approach the opposite way of thinking from time to time.
It worked for George Costanza!
Kyle Bergeris a freelance writer and producer of the Berger With Frieshealth, fitness and entertainment blog. Follow him on Twitter @kberger16.