When Team Israel unveiled its baseball roster for the 2020 Olympic summer games, it was composed of 20 Americans and four Israelis, a representation of the world’s best Jewish baseball players.
Two years later, a record number of Jewish hockey players participated in the 2022 Beijing winter Olympics. Canada’s roster contained three members of the frozen chosen, and team USA had two. By the virtue of his great-grandparents finding refuge in Harbin during World War I, Ethan Werek was able to play for team China. Considering Werek’s father was born in Israel and he actually has Israeli citizenship, it would be more appropriate for him to wear the Star of David on his chest.
With that in mind and the fact that the World Hockey Championship has just begun, and also considering the historic rise of Jewish talent in men’s hockey, I took it upon myself (following a suggestion by Bryan Salamon and Moshe Kolat) to assemble a potential Team Israel, and assess how it would fare in a tournament against the hockey superpowers of the world.
In addition, I put together an under-20 roster for this summer’s World Junior Championships, and a women’s team roster. Players on each roster were meticulously researched to determine their eligibility.
To make the roster, players must be active and match Team Israel’s eligibility rules, meaning that they qualify by having a Jewish grandparent rather than being halachically Jewish (this would disqualify NHL defenseman Jason Demers for example as his Jewish ancestry goes back too many generations). Please note that IIHF rules allow four lines of defensemen, and I’ve structured the roster as a depth chart of sorts to allow for injury replacements and depth. Please contact me regarding omissions or additions.
Men’s Depth Chart
Left wing: Artemi Panarin, Jason Zucker, Brendan Leipsic, Eliezer Sherbatov, Jay Dickman, Max Sasson, Haims Joffe.
Center: Jack Hughes (Alternate Captain), Luke Kunin, Nate Thompson, Carter Camper, Ethan Werek, Sasha Chmelevski, Ethen Frank, David Levin, Tyler Drevitch, Joshua Nodler, Lee Lapid, Nick Rivera, Cole Guttman.
Right wing: Zach Hyman (Captain), Josh Ho-Sang, Andrew Calof, Ozzy Wiesblatt, Pavel Rotenberg, Nico Blachman.
Left defense: Quinn Hughes, Jakob Chychrun, David Warsofsky, Jake Walman, Matt Stief, Eric Israel, Max Balinson, Olivier Dame-Malka, Jordan Schneider.
Right defense: Adam Fox (Alternate Captain), Mark Friedman, Chase Priskie, Jonathan Blum, Adam Karashik, Ben Finkelstein, Ruben Rafkin.
Goaltenders: Devon Levi, Strauss Mann, Yaniv Perets, Matt Greenfield, Justin Kapelmaster, Jake Kupsky.
Analysis: Yes, Panarin would make Team Israel. He was raised by his grandfather Vladimir Levin. Adding Pavel Rotenberg to the team is a no-brainer as he does have skill and his father would instantly fund the entire program.
This is a team that could potentially medal. They possess an elite top line with solid depth, particularly on defense. Their weakness would be in net, but both Levi and Mann have proven to be able to compete in international competition. I would rank them 6th best in the world, behind Canada, Finland, Sweden, USA, and Russia but ahead of Czechia, Slovakia, and Switzerland.
Junior Depth Chart
Left wing: Josh Bloom (Alternate Captain), Sam Lipkin, Andrew Cristall, Oren Shtrom, A.J. Lacroix, Dimitry Kebreau.
Center: Elias Cohen, Evan Klein, Ben-Chaim Lalkin, Oasiz Wiesblatt, Charlie Lurie, Jesse Fishman.
Right wing: Jack Beck, Dawson Pasternak, Devin Kaplan, David Hymovitch, Ilia Chmelevski, Walker Gelbard, Elijah Leinwand, Davids Livsics.
Left defense: Luke Hughes (Alternate Captain), Shai Buium (Captain), Josh Mori, Beck Majdell, Saige Weinstein, Tyler Rubin, Zeev Buium, Noah-David Dayan, David Brandes, Eli Deener-Chodriker, Daniel Rosenfeld.
Right defense: Simon Motew, Riley Rosenthal, Aiden Dubinsky, Harry Meirowitz, Matthew Danziger, George Alboim, Asher Wites.
Goaltenders: Dylan Silverstein, Semyon Korshenboim, Thatcher Bernstein, Josh Rosenzweig, Justin Katz, Jack Fialkoff, Charlie Tritt.
Analysis: This is a very strong team, with numerous drafted players and several who could make a case for playing on the men’s roster. Expect Kaplan and Silverstein to be drafted this summer, Andrew Cristall next summer (and Ryan Fine, who may be Jewish), and both Bernstein and Leinwand in two years. AJ Lacroix wins the least Jewish name on the roster.
This is a team that lacks top end talent outside of its defensemen. However, it could compete among the world’s premier hockey countries, likely ranking 7th or 8th.
Women’s Depth Chart
Left wing: Samantha Cogan, Anna Bargman, Sharon Frankel, Morgan Leib, Hannah Berkowitz, Deborah Iszraelewicz (Alternate Captain), Toby Graham.
Center: Missy Segall, Elle Hartje, Lauren Kader, Mae Olshansky, Hannah Fineberg, Ashley Walden, Jori Balsam.
Right wing: Chelsey Goldberg (Captain), Elyssa Biederman, Mikah Baptiste, Maddie Scheinberg, Tori Bevan, Leah Rubinshteyn, Jessie Arons.
Left defense: Shelby Calof, Sasha Hartje, Nicole Posesorski, Hannah Gold, Erika Ehrenberg, Annabel Ziskin, Chen Kotler.
Right defense: Kaleigh Fratkin (Alternate Captain), Sydney Sorkin, Mikaila Rubin, Drew Kuretsky, Isabella Gershtein, Ava Halperin, Zoe Dupuis.
Goaltenders: Tera Hofmann, Aerin Frankel, Cami Kronish, Hannah Gordon, Shira Wein.
Analysis: Goldberg is the obvious choice for captain, as she has revolutionized Jewish women’s hockey with her steadfast outspoken support for a National Women’s Team in Israel and her successful push to bring women’s hockey to the Maccabiah games. On the roster is 45-year-old Team France vet Deborah Iszraelewicz, whose international experience earns her an alternate captaincy. Mikah Baptiste wins second least Jewish name on all Team Israel rosters.
The team has just four professional players in Hofmann, Cogan, Fratkin, and Goldberg but is elite in net, with Frankel the undisputed best goalie in college hockey.
The team is young but due to the dearth of elite players on teams that aren’t Canada or the USA, it could fight Finland and Sweden for a bronze medal. I’d rank them 4th best in the world, ahead of Sweden, Russia, Switzerland, and other hockey nations.
Team staff: There are plenty of Jewish coaches available to step behind the benches of Team Israel’s men’s, junior, and women’s teams. Head coach options include Mikhail Kravets, Ryan Warsofsky, and David or Mikhail Nemirovsky. Jeff Halpern, Michael Henrich, Steve Richmond, Lindsay Berman, and Vince Malts would make solid assistant coaches. Video coaching can be led by Jeff Weintraub, Ian Greenwald, Ian Beckenstein, Jake Wagman or Noah Segall. Mitch Korn can work with the goalies, and Don Fishman, Eric Tulsky, Doug Friedman, Kim Hirschovits, Jaimie Leonoff, and Danny Richmond could manage the front office.
There are numerous talented players I suspect are Jewish but have yet to find enough evidence of their qualifications to make the team. This includes Jacob Golden, Vitaly Levyy, Izzy Daniel, Maxim Golod, Abbey Levy, Yakov Kaufman, Lenny Greenberg, Ryan Levy, Ryan Fine, Chelsey Rosenthal, Garrett Schifsky, Logan Stein, Griffin Mendel, David Jacobs, and Callie Hoff.
As of now, the only Israelis capable of making a roster are Eliezer Sherbatov, David Levin, and Chen Kotler. That may change, but there is no doubt that a Jewish team in all categories would be capable of battling with some of the best countries in the world.