When I decided to come to Israel for the summer, I was looking up fun stuff to do around the country. Then I remembered Bill Meltzer's blog from last year
and subsequent NHL.com article
. Looking up those pages, I was connected with some Canadian ex-pats in Israel who formed their own shinny league. Unfortunately, when it came time to pack, some items had to go, and among them was my hockey skates. So I won't actually get to play hockey in Israel. But after joining their ranks, I heard the announcement of the World Jewish Hockey Tournament, a big event in Israel's north for hockey fans in Israel to come watch. The planning started big, but ended with just 4 teams: Canada, USA, Israel and France. I vowed that I was going to be in Metulla for this.
I actually kind of wish Israeli media did too. I've read a couple of news reports from Israeli media, but they seem to have been filed by people who weren't there. For instance, Jerusalem Post said they interviewed Team Canada coach Sherry Bassin. If they had in fact interviewed Sherry, they would've known Sherry is short for Sherwood, and that Sherry Bassin is a 'he' and not a 'she' like the Post had on their website all day today. Meanwhile, the largest newspaper in Israel, Yidiot Achronot had an article on their English Ynetnews site. Again, one has to wonder if they were even there if they kept getting the score wrong, and said the Israeli team had 'little ambition,' despite not having seen them play. Nice to know the boost to the north's economy is getting their full appreciation, especially when this event was the reopening of the big arena at the Canada Centre after last summer's war.
Metulla and I have had an interesting relationship together. I remember my aunt led me to getting my first Israeli national team hockey jersey. I wore that to hockey practices all the time. One teammate once made a crack like I was an Israeli soldier, possibly trying to insult me, I don't know. I just felt very proud to be called it. My aunt's synagogue was giving out brochures to order Israeli hockey merchandise to help fund the arena still being built. When I was taking classes for my Bar Mitzvah, I remember showing a brochure to my Rabbi and telling him we should choose that for our class' charity project: Raise funds for the hockey arena in Israel. I was outvoted.
5 years later, I was scheduled to go to the Canada Centre when I went on an organized tour to Israel. This was May 2000. Because of the uncertainty with the pending withdrawal of Israeli troops from the buffer zone in southern Lebanon, all trips were ordered to divert from places near the border such as Metulla. I was devastated. We replaced it with a trip to a waterfall to go swimming, but the scars from that change are still with me. (No, really. I tripped walking up the stairs from the waterfall, and still have a scar on my knee from it). A group from Panama was also diverted, and instead of staying 4 to a room at the Youth Hostel we were at, we had to stay 6 to a room to make room for the Panama trip.
3 years later, I was on another trip to Israel, this time the famous Birthright Israel free 10-day trip for Jewish youths. I went in winter 2002-03. This was the height of the intifada, when parents were trying to bribe, scare or threaten their kids who went to Israel. Obviously it didn't work on me, but the security situation was so uncertain, when I see what trips are doing a mere 4 years later, I get jealous. My trip could never go to Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem to shop. My trip couldn't set foot in the Mediterranean in Tel Aviv. And my trip couldn't go so close to Lebanon, like in Metulla. Again, no skating at the Canada Centre.
The biggest tease was the course I'm taking at Hebrew University right now. We took a one day field trip to the north to learn about Israeli history. We went to the Sea of Galilee and learnt about early Israeli settlers, and then we went to Tel Hai to learn about one of Israel's first military victories. We were just a few kilometers down the road from Metulla. And then... Israeli law doesn't allow bus drivers to be on the job longer than 12 hours per day. While the driver seemed oblivious to the time, our professor went to the driver when we boarded the bus at Tel Hai and told him a word I dreaded: "Yerushalayim." While I knew I wasn't going to skate at the Canada Centre, I've just been dying to see it. And instead the prof decided it was time to go home. I was heartbroken. I'm such a Canadian though... I just want to SEE the hockey arena.
It was there that I made the decision: I don't care what the cost, I am going to Metulla this Friday! I have exhausted every means of transportation, and settled on the one I feel will serve me the best. I've checked every accomodation in the vicinity. There is no stopping me this time, I am going to Metulla and that is that! Perhaps if they rent skates, I will try my hand at skating on Israeli ice too at some point.
I am excited! 13 years ago, it was a catalogue with jerseys and other merchandise, and this week it will be seeing my first game there, and maybe stepping on the ice too. I am going to report back here all about it by Saturday, complete with photos! Stay tuned!
And for reference sake:
USA beat France 8-4, and Israel upset Canada 2-1 in what has been billed as a very exciting game. Makes me salivate at the thought of going this week!
For more info: http://www.israel-hockey.com/
Team Canada: http://www.israel-hockey....tulla07/roster_canada.htm