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Hebrew University To Hand Out Athletic Scholarship in Hockey

In an attempt to spread the national religion of hockey, Canadian Friends of Hebrew University will be awarding an athletic scholarship.
By Aryeh Ben Hayim
First Publish: 7/12/2011, 4:52 PM / Last Update: 7/12/2011, 8:39 PM

Although there are Russian, Swedish, Finnish, Czech stars in the National Hockey League, not to mention many other nationalities, Canada considers itself the cradle of the sport of hockey.

Therefore, when the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University decided to add another scholarship it was only natural for them to create an athletic scholarship for an outstanding Israeli hockey player.

Israeli hockey got a big boost with the mass immigration from the former Soviet Union. Boris Mindel a former defenseman from the fabled Red Army team became a coach in the northern border town of Metula, Israel's northernmost city. But it was Canadian Jewry who helped foster the renaissance financially. 

Metula is home to the Canada Centre sports complex, which includes Israel's only Olympic-size ice rink, along with the Canada-Israel Hockey School. The star athlete will have a long commute from Jerusalem, but sports legends are built on such efforts.

The school was spearheaded by Canadian businessman Sidney Greenberg of Astral Media, and its sponsors include the National Hockey League and Air Canada. 

Israel has about 500 registered hockey players, and there is an eight-team Israeli Hockey League along with an Israel Recreational Hockey Association. This year marks 20 years since Israel joined the International Ice Hockey Federation in 1991.

In 2006 the Israeli squad was promoted to division I but was outscored 47-3 in the tournament and was afterward relegated to the more realistic division II. Perhaps a new scholarship symbolizes a renaissance for the sport in Israel.