Prominent Canadians in Israeli hockey speak out after the IIHF abruptly banned Israel from competition

israel women hockey
Esther Silver, manager, (middle row, far left) poses with the Israeli women's hockey team at their first international tournament in Serbia in 2022. (Submitted photo)

Last week, the International Ice Hockey Federation—the sport’s governing body—announced they were barring Israeli national teams from competing in crucial championship matches this winter. The move is seen by many as an unfair penalty against the Jewish State in the wake of the war with Hamas, in which an estimated 25,000 Palestinians have been killed, resulting from Hamas’s terrorist attack on Oct. 7, 2023.

IIHF officials insist their decision was not political, but instead made purely for security reasons: they couldn’t guarantee Israeli athletes’ safety from protestors during upcoming matches in Bulgaria, Serbia and Estonia, nor the safety of all participants and fans. Nonetheless, Israel’s hockey federation has announced a legal appeal.

In the meantime, the IIHF’s ruling has shocked the team’s fans around the world—not to mention Israel’s athletes and coaches themselves, including a handful of Canadians closely tied to Israel’s hockey program. On today’s episode of The CJN Daily, you’ll hear from two of them: Esther Silver, the Canadian-born manager of Israel’s women’s hockey team, and Eliezer Sherbatov, a veteran of the men’s team, now based in Montreal.

What we talked about

  • Learn more about the growing reaction to Israel’s hockey teams being blocked from international competition, in The CJN
  • Read more about athlete Elie Sherbatov’s long hockey career, including his escape from the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and about his new book on overcoming a weak left foot condition to succeed on the ice, on The Menschwarmers’ podcast
  • Hear about the birth of Israel’s national women’s hockey team and manager Esther Silver’s support for the players, on The CJN Daily


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.