Spotlight on …
Marblehead teen helps hockey in Israel
Where it all began
In this season of giving, there is the story of Marblehead hockey player Jacob Aizanman. Well, let’s back up a bit …
The story really begins four summers ago with Aizanman’s mom, Melissa, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
While on a trip with a women’s group, Melissa noticed a woman wearing a shirt with the Canadian flag. Her husband being from Canada, Melissa struck up a conversation, and the traveler turned out to be Hockey Canada star and TSN broadcaster Tessa Bonhomme. Bonhomme was in Israel to promote a documentary, “Neutral Zone,” about a hockey school in Israel, and it was this documentary about the Canada-Israel Hockey School that stuck with the Aizanman family for years.
CIHS is in Metula, a tiny landlocked peninsula of a town at the northernmost point of Israel, surrounded on three sides by Lebanon and within a mile or so of Syria.
Yet there is a hockey school there. And that school could use a little assistance.
When it came time to think about a bar mitzvah project, Jacob, who plays for Marblehead Youth Hockey and his middle school team, combined two passions – for his religion and his sport – to help.
“I thought it was so special to me because it was two things I love the most,” Jacob says. “This really inspired me to get motivated on the project and really do something for the school.”
Plan in action
With his family, Jacob began to formulate a plan to get some much-appreciated equipment out to CIHS. This would be no small feat.
Thanks to some family connections in the world of sports and with the help of Pure Hockey, Jacob secured 200 individual pieces of equipment – neck guards and jock straps, 100 of each – to send.
“This turned into a big event where Jacob had to write letters to all the hockey stores locally and try to think about donations,” Melissa says. “We got these huge boxes delivered to us, and then I was, like, ‘Oh my, how are we going to get this to Israel?'”
Next up, delivery.
The Aizanmans boarded a plane (a sporting goods shop in Marblehead donated hockey bags to carry the equipment and Air Canada waived bag fees) and headed out to Israel for the reveal.
“Their mouths dropped,” says Jacob. “They thought that we were coming with maybe 20 or so of each, but we came with 100 of each.”
This coming July, Jacob plans to head back to the school in Metula.
“I’m going to really like meeting the kids that we helped,” Jacob says. “And I’m going to look forward to going back there and playing with them.”
The Aizanmans may once again bear gifts.
“We’re still trying to raise money for a Sparx [skate sharpening] machine,” says Melissa. “We’re trying to raise money to get a machine over to Israel so they can have a machine on-site, so we’re trying to figure out how to do that. That’s our next mission.”
The last word
“It’s a bit of the Jewish tradition that you do mitzvahs and community service projects, so it was in our fiber while growing up, and now it has been in the fiber of Jacob while he was growing up,” says Melissa. “But, to see the impact that giving had, that was special to me. [As parents, we] can say you need to do something, but the feeling that Jacob took away from it on his own will be everlasting.”
“If you put your mind to it, you’ll be able to do something like this,” Jacob says. “It’s a lot of hard work, but the hard work pays off and it’s a really good feeling. Giving was probably the most gratifying, but I loved all of it. All of it was very powerful.”