April 18, 2024
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April 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

RCCS Hockey Classic: Competing for Chesed

(Courtesy of RCCS Hockey Classic) This past weekend was no doubt the highlight of the Jewish ice hockey world. Over 300 players comprising 20 different teams all joined together for one single goal—to raise money for the Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society (RCCS). The RCCS Hockey Classic is held annually and brings together players from all over the country, Canada and Israel to compete in a two-day ice hockey tournament. While the games are competitive and fun, the common goal is simple—to raise awareness and funds for RCCS which provides hope and relief to cancer patients and their families and holds their hand while they provide support in helping the family beat its battle with cancer. Incredibly, the hockey tournament alone raised over $3 million this year for the organization.

This year’s tournament was held at Ice Line Rinks in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The hockey schedule is brutal, with all teams playing three round robin games which determines the seeding for the playoffs. Overall, teams can play five games in two days which is a heavy grind even for the most in shape athlete. “The tournament is top notch” said Zvi Rudman, a member of Team Gators, who along with his son Asher, provided a potent offense for their team. “While the hockey is fun and competitive, the bigger picture is always what really motivates us to come back and play every year. RCCS does wonderful, vital things for families that need it most and it is truly an honor to be a part of it.”

The tournament was run like no other. Tournament directors begin preparations and put out incentives for teams to raise money months in advance. Rabbi Yisroel Merkin, the brains behind the tournament operations, spends most of his days in the months before the event educating families on the importance of the work that RCCS does. As players arrived at their assigned locker room their jerseys were hanging on the hooks ready to be worn, the swag bags were overflowing with giveaways and the coolers were stocked with drinks and snacks. There is even a masseuse available for those that need it between games. In addition there is a room set aside with food and drinks so that the players can refuel between games.

“Our team was very unique this year,” said Josh Kirschenbaum, captain of Team Gators. “Our roster consisted of both seasoned veteran older players as well as younger players who participated for the first time. It was great to see fathers and sons playing together and we even had a grandfather on the team!” The Gators finished the tournament with a 3-0 record and in dramatic fashion tied up the championship game with under a second left to force the game to go to a shootout.

The highlight of the tournament was the banquet that was held after the first day of games. The food was plentiful, the drinks were flowing and the atmosphere was invigorating as players sat together and laughed with opponents they were battling with on the ice just a few hours earlier. Several patients and parents of patients who have been helped and are still being helped by RCCS went up and told their emotional stories, putting the whole event into perspective. From the youngest of players to the oldest, each took away a true feeling of accomplishment by having done their small part to help raise awareness and money for RCCS.

To learn more about RCCS please visit their website: www.RCCS.com 

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