Come July the sizzling temperatures of mid-summer send us looking for cool corners, water into which we can dip our bodies for refreshment, shade or air-conditioned spaces, but how long can we sit around with not much to do. On July 5 the puck will be whizzing across the surface of the ice in the Canada Center, Metulla when the international Jewish ice hockey championships will bring enthusiastic teams and their supporters from Canada, the United States, Russia, France and the United Kingdom to compete against the local teams. Come July 5, two hundred players – both junior and senior categories will face one another in fast and exciting battle for 10 days. "Some three hundred visitors have already booked; together with the players we hope to have five hundred guests here, mostly from overseas." I was informed by Hagai Rozenbaum, the new and enthusiastic director of the Canada Center.
This happening fulfills some of the dreams and hopes of the late Yossi Goldberg, once head of Metulla's local council, whose unstinting efforts together with the generosity of the United Israel Appeal of Canada brought the center into being. Since its opening in 1990 the years have seen the addition of a number of indoor sports facilities but, over a decade of use plus the wear and tear of time, an upgrading of facilities became necessary. Once again Canadian Jewish communities made this possible and a million dollar renovation has just been completed bringing the center up to modern standards not only for these coming championships but also for the use of all members and visitors.
The influx of Russian immigrants to Israel in the late 80s and 90s brought with it professional ice hockey players, amongst whom was Boris Mindel who established a junior program in Canada Center. Then the late Roger Neilson, coach of such teams as the New York Rangers and the Toronto Maple Leafs, organized summer ice hockey camps in Metulla which brought a number of young North American players over to play and form ties with young Israelis who were warming to the game. A 'Canadian Friends of the Israeli Ice Hockey Association' was founded in Montreal in the early 1990s by David Lisbona and Larry Markowitz, and over the intervening years they have been responsible for the sending of much needed and appreciated ice hockey equipment. In addition, the name of Israel also began to appear in the world of figure skating and in February of this year Alexandra and Roman Zaretski danced their way to success scoring the highest technical and presentation marks in the compulsory dance and just missed winning first place in an international competition.
Visitors to the Canada Center today can enjoy not only two ice rinks but also a well appointed indoor swimming pool with jacuzzi, a newly opened spa with excellent massage treatments and sauna facilities. There is also a modern, well equipped gymnasium run by Alex Stockonov of body building fame, as well as a basket ball court, squash courts and a gunfire shooting range. In addition, one can pass the time and face the lesser, but also enjoyable, challenges of a ten track, certified indoor bowling hall, with billiard tables on the side as well as table tennis nearby; there are also lockers for the use of day visitors. For only 250 shekels per adult one can have a full day's enjoyment of ALL these facilities – which is wonderful value. Children – aged from 3 to 13 – can also share part of the fun, skating and swimming (with rates from 65 – 85 shekels). There is also a choice of three eateries where one can find fresh and appetizing fare.
Placed high on hillsides full of history, Metulla and the beauties of its surroundings offer visitors a special taste of Israel's natural attractions. There are many comfortable hotels as well as a wide range of bed and breakfast accommodation, so why not think of bringing the family up to enjoy two sides of the coin – give support to a fun-filled and challenging sporting occasion and sample the natural beauties as well as the good food and fine wines of the region.
To prebook and obtain any information needed please phone 04 695 0370, or log onto www.canada-centre.co.il - there is a short flash player showing the center on the website.