Tag Archives: Edmonton Oilers

Jews of the Week: Sherbatov and Hyman

Two Inspiring Pro Hockey Players

Eliezer “Eli” Sherbatov

Eliezer Sherbatov (b. 1991) was born in Rehovot, Israel to Jewish-Russian immigrants, and moved with his family to Quebec as a child. His father was a big fan of the Montreal Canadians hockey team, and Sherbatov grew up playing lots of hockey. At just 13, he returned to Israel to join the HC Metulla hockey team. He represented Israel at the 2005 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, becoming the youngest player in tournament history. A serious rollerblading injury nearly ended his career, and kept him off the ice for over two years. He eventually returned to Montreal for junior training camp, then headed to France to play in the Magnus League, where he was one of the top scorers. He has since played for a number of European teams, and was the first Israeli to play in the KHL. More recently, he played for Poland’s Oswiecim (ie. Auschwitz) of which he said: “I have a great deal of motivation because it is Auschwitz. I want to win the championship, the Polish Cup and the continental title, and then everyone will know the one who did this is a Jewish-Israeli.” Sherbatov has been most successful on the international stage, captaining Israel’s little-known hockey team to multiple victories. At the 2011 IIHF World Championships, Sherbatov stunned fans with a highlight-reel goal that ended up being ranked as the fourth greatest hockey goal of all time. In 2019, he led Israel’s team to its first gold medal at the IIHF World Championship (Division II). He was the tournament’s top scorer, and named “Best Forward”. Sherbatov currently plays for HC Mariupol in the Ukrainian Hockey League.

Zach Hyman (Credit: Michael Miller)

Zachary Martin Hyman (b. 1992) was born in Toronto, Canada. His father is the chairman of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, and Hyman grew up immersed in hockey, together with his four brothers. He went to Jewish day school and graduated from Toronto’s Jewish high school, CHAT. Meanwhile, Hyman played for the Hamilton Red Wings junior team and became its captain and leading scorer. He was soon awarded junior Player of the Year by Hockey Canada, and the OJHL’s Most Gentlemanly Player. Hyman went to the University of Michigan on an athletic scholarship, and by his senior year was the team’s top scorer. A serious student, too, he graduated with a Distinguished Scholar Award. Hyman was drafted to the NHL by the Florida Panthers in 2010, but ended up playing for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. In his first year, he set records for most shorthanded goals by a rookie and most consecutive games with an assist. He went on to play on the Leafs’ top line, and was an alternate captain. Aside from hockey, Hyman is a bestselling author of children’s books, and is currently working on his fourth book. He has also been praised for his extensive charity work. When the new NHL season begins next week, Hyman will suit up for the Edmonton Oilers, with whom he signed a 7-year, $38.5 million contract.

Words of the Week

Jews do not accept the world that is. They challenge it in the name of the world that ought to be.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Jews of the Week: The Ghermezians

Jacob Ghermezian

Jacob Ghermezian (1902-2000) was born to a religious Jewish family in Azerbaijan, and grew up in Iran. He started a business selling Persian rugs when he was just 17 years old. Within two decades, Ghermezian became one of Iran’s wealthiest businessmen. In 1943, he hosted Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin in his apartment during the critical “Tehran Conference” where the three world leaders discussed the final stages of World War II and planned their path to victory. Unfortunately, the religious, and political situation in Iran worsened in the 1950s, so the Ghermezian family emigrated to America. After a short stay in New York, they settled in Montreal. Soon after, Ghermezian and his four sons (Eskandar, Nader, Raphael, and Bahman) discovered the inexpensive, pre-oil boom Edmonton real estate market, and heavily invested in it. The family fortune soared, and the Ghermezians soon took on their biggest project: the $1.1 billion West Edmonton Mall, which remains North America’s largest to this day (and was the world’s largest from 1985 to 2004). The 5 million square foot complex boasts a theme park (with roller coaster), indoor shooting range, an NHL-sized hockey rink (where Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers used to practice), the world’s largest indoor lake, over 800 stores, a hotel, theatre, bungee jump, and the world’s largest parking lot. The Mall was once called the “eighth wonder of the world”, and draws 32 million visitors a year. The Ghermezians also built the Mall of America in Minnesota, the largest in the United States, and are currently building the extravagant American Dream Mall in New Jersey, which will have America’s only indoor ski hill. Despite the fame and fortune, Jacob Ghermezian never abandoned his Jewish faith, nor did he ever conduct business on the Sabbath. He instilled the same values in his sons, all of whom, like their father, were tremendous philanthropists, funding schools and scholarships, synagogues, charity organizations, and other institutions in Alberta and around the world.

Words of the Week

To the Jews we owe the idea of equality before the law, both divine and human; of the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person; of the individual conscience and so of personal redemption; of the collective conscience and so of social responsibility; of peace as an abstract ideal and love as the foundation of justice, and many other items which constitute the basic moral furniture of the human mind.
– Paul Johnson

Jacob and Miriam Ghermezian with their four sons in the 1990s.