July 17, 2013, - 3:37 pm
The picture, below, is of my dear first cousin, Ira W. Schlussel, who is on the USA Hockey Team for the Maccabiah Games in Israel. The games, which begin on Sunday, are the Jewish Olympics. I’m very proud of my cousin (my late father, H.L. Schlussel, MD, and Ira’s dad, my uncle, Mark Schlussel, were brothers). He’s a modern Orthodox Jew like me and a tremendous athlete. Not only is he a terrific hockey player, but he could have been a pro golfer (he’s that good), were it not for his observance of the Jewish Sabbath (which interferes with most golf tournaments). In 1985, I was a finalist for the USA Tennis Team to the Maccabiah Games, but I got smoked in the first round of the finals tennis tournament in Philadelphia, so I’m doubly proud that a Schlussel–especially Ira, who is named after my late grandfather, Irving Wolf Schlussel–made it to the Maccabiah Games in Israel.
On other thing: it’s rare that I would link to the consistently far-left, anti-Israel, pro-Muslim Metro Times of Detroit–and even rarer that the paper would feature an article on Jews and Israel that doesn’t include a single negative word. But my cousin–who is a real mensch and like a brother to me–managed to do the impossible.
There are two things you should know about Ira Schlussel: The man loves God and he loves hockey. A passion for the fastest game on Earth happened around age 6, thanks in no small part to the players of the day, including Gordie Howe, Dale McCourt and the rest of the winged wheelers; it’s been his passion for 40 years. His relationship with God happened (most likely) at birth.
Schlussel, an observant Jew, will combine his two loves on the only ice rink in Israel — “The Star Spangled Banner” bellowing from the speakers, Stars and Stripes draping his chest — as a participant in the 19th Maccabiah Games, which begin this year on July 21.
The Maccabiah Games, known by some as the “Jewish Olympics,” began in 1932; the event was forced to take a near two-decade hiatus after 1935, however, due to the Holocaust. They returned in 1950 and, after the 1953 competition, became quadrennial, like their Greek predecessor. . . .
While other members of the Maccabiah hockey team typically spent their college years on skates, Schlussel, who now spends his days as general counsel for the digital engagement agency ePrize, instead focused on earning his degree and going to law school; hockey had to take a step back.
Since he began playing the sport, Schlussel says he has only spent one year blade-free, and that was at age 22 when he first moved to Washington, D.C., to begin his first year of law school at Georgetown University. . . .
“I’m very passionate about hockey, but I have a similar, maybe even more, passion about Israel. It’s really combining two of my passions,” he says. “To stand on the ice with the big USA jersey, listening to the national anthem, and then the Israeli national anthem I think will be a really moving experience. It’ll be a culmination.”
Read the whole thing.
This morning, I got this e-mail from Ira, who is already in Israel with his wife and kids:
I am just coming back to Jerusalem from Masada and the Dead Sea.
Our grandparents, Irving W. and Marilyn D. Schlussel, who worked so tirelessly all their lives for the establishment of the State of Israel and raising money for it afterward, would be so proud of Ira.
Mazel Tov [Good luck/Congrats] and Yasher Koach [May your strength grow/be affirmed], Ira. And bring home the Gold Medal. USA! USA! USA!
Below, is an article from The Detroit Times from 1951. It is about a dinner, also hosted by Ira’s and my grandfather, Irving Schlussel. The dinner was in honor of then-Michigan Governor G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams and Lt. Governor (later U.S. Senator) Phil Hart. (Although my grandfather was very active in Jewish National Fund and a national official of the organization–which plants trees in Israel, I and my late father and immediate family long ago stopped supporting the organization, which now honors HAMAS Palestinians, refuses to fund anything for Jews outside Israel’s Green Line, and gives gazillions in training and funding to the Palestinians, helping them compete against Israeli Jews, as I’ve detailed on this site. That’s my view and I don’t speak for Ira on this.)
FDR’s son, Elliot, spoke at a dinner in honor of Ira’s and my grandfather, and because of my and Ira’s grandfather’s (and grandmother’s) efforts, the State of Israel also established a forest in honor of him and my grandmother, the Irving W. and Marilyn D. Schlussel Forest (note the old plaque which mistakenly says he is from New York–in those days, they thought all American Jews were from New York). The pics below feature me and my sisters upon our visit and a special ceremony held, during which we planted trees.
Tags: hockey, Ira Schlussel, Ira W. Schlussel, Israel, Jewish hockey players, Jewish Olympics, Jews, Jews and hockey, Maccabiah Games