July 17, 2013, - 3:37 pm

USA! USA!: My 1st Cousin, Ira Schlussel, Makes the USA Hockey Team . . . In Israel

By Debbie Schlussel

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.


One 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.



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32 Responses

C. O. N. G. R. A. T. U. L. A. T. I. O. N. S. !

As goes Israel, so goes the World... on July 17, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Your beam of pride is so intense the warmth can be felt from there to here. A bolt of naches.

Very happy for you, Debbie, your cousin, and the Schlussel clan.

lee of the lower case "l" on July 17, 2013 at 4:17 pm

As the first commentator here said, “congratulations”, congrats DS, this is clearly an honor for you and your relative members.

Debbie, I took a real good look at your cousin Ira in this photo, he looks a little like former NHL player “Mathieu Schnider”, and current NY Islanders play-by-play man on MSG+ and NY Mets play-by-play man on WFAN radio in New York “Howie Rose” (both Rose and Schnider happen to be of jewish lineage).

“A nation is defined by its borders, language & culture!”

Sean R. on July 17, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Very cool. 🙂

ebayer on July 17, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Thanks for sharing some happy news — we all needed it! No wonder you are proud! I didn’t realize you had been that level of athlete — that is also very cool!

MominMinnesota on July 17, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Awesome! Good luck to your cousin Ira and his USA hockey team in the Maccabiah Games. USA! USA!

Rob on July 17, 2013 at 4:59 pm

It’s nice to see Jews playing the best sport in the world in Israel. If only I could make it up to Metula for the hockey games.

Ben on July 17, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Congratulations! I saw the ice rink in Jerusalem on a trip there in 2011. It was an April Saturday night and there were loads of families- some orthodox, some not, skating around having a ball. In the Old City, not far away, there was an enormous food festival, with live bands (at the Jaffa Gate). To those who haven’t been, there are few places as happy as Jerusalem.

Not Ovenready on July 17, 2013 at 5:31 pm

You played tennis? What was your rating? 3.0? 3.5? 4.0? Do you still play?

JEG: Yes, I played and was really good. Never had a rating. Haven’t played in years, but, while rusty, I bet I could get back into it if I wanted to. My serve and other shots come automatically to me. But I used to be a sprinter, which is great for tennis. But now I’m into running long distances and have for years, losing my sprinting ability quite a bit. DS

Jonathan E. Grant on July 17, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Super. Congrats Debbie

knowsomewhatless on July 17, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Hi Debbie,

I’m glad you liked the article on Ira; it was a cool story and Ira deserves all the praise he’s receiving. For clarification, the Metro Times is not, nor ever has been, affiliated with the Detroit Times; that newspaper was owned by the Hearst Corporation and was ultimately absorbed by the then-parent company of the Detroit News.

Bryan Gottlieb on July 17, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Congratulations to your cousin Ira and the rest of your family, Debbie.

JeffE on July 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Congratulations, and good luck to your cuz.

samurai on July 17, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Congratulations to Ira Schlussel, and playing at an age when most athletes are long since retired!!! Good for him, and those Schlussel genes. Very happy for you, Debbie. God bless the Schlussel clan.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on July 17, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Is this game for Jews only?

Can Muslim Israel citizens join in the fun and games.

geekpuk2 on July 18, 2013 at 12:22 am

You should be proud of your cousin,Ms. Schlussel. It sound like a big honor and he deserves it. He also sounds like a proud patriot to me. Sadly,I doubt most Muslim-Americans would feel the same way about this country that your cousin does.

Ghostwriter on July 18, 2013 at 1:50 am

You need to shut it.

james cunningham on July 18, 2013 at 1:52 am

    Jimmy, no one forces you to come to this site. In fact, why not give your mom a break and do your own laundry.

    Worry01 on July 18, 2013 at 4:50 am

Very good.

Worry01 on July 18, 2013 at 4:47 am

Wonderful hockey and G-d, both bring joy. I wish Ira luck and strength and quick reflexes. Congratulations Ira.

markswfl on July 18, 2013 at 4:48 am

Congratulation to your cousin.

Gracie on July 18, 2013 at 6:54 am


Find-out if there’s still a Jewish 30 & Over Men’s League at the Oak Park Arena…there was back in the mid ’70s. If so, get your cousin to play there and have some fun! I did.


Dennis on July 18, 2013 at 8:44 am

Congratulations Debbie! It is rather amazing how members of certain families (like yours) excel in lifes endeavors generation after generation. There is a LOT to be said for proper upbringing, eh??

PDMac60 on July 18, 2013 at 9:48 am

Fabulous story Deb! There is hope for the future with fine young men like this.

FIRECAPT on July 18, 2013 at 11:18 am

How wonderfully delightful for you, and maybe even kvelling inside! Wings fans; Welcome back to the Eastern Conference from Bruins nut, Nighthawk.

Nighthawk on July 18, 2013 at 11:43 am

The games temporarily make me forget about all the the repression [to put it mildly./off],
The NHL doofusses in the disciplinary office have ruined the game with the Holderlike pronouncement that it is not kosher to “admonish” a head hunter while sticking up for his teammate whose skull was crushed. This in, in a nutshell, is the result of making reality palatable to to the liberal weenies.

Nighthawk on July 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Congratulations to you and your cousin Ira!

Concerned Citizen on July 18, 2013 at 12:41 pm

That’s great news Debbie, that a relative is proud to be on the American without disclaimers that sadly many of “our” athletes are doing nowadays. By the way, love your hair style with long wavy hair, ever think of returning back to it ? 😉

Mario on July 18, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Debbie, congratulations to Ira for making it to the team!

Infidel on July 20, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Wow, it’s about time we hear about some Jewish sports heroes, especially after Ryan Braun got caught….sports aint exactly our strong area.

Tyronee Carter on August 11, 2013 at 5:21 pm

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