Eliezer Sherbatov was born in Russia. His parents, persecuted because they were Jews, immigrated with their three sons to Israel, and later, to Canada. Passionate hockey fans, they encouraged Eliezer’s interest and talent in the sport and coached him through the ups and downs of a life dedicated to the playing of professional ice hockey. The downs included several serious injuries, most notably nerve damage to his left foot due to a fall that occurred off the ice. This injury seemed as if it would spell the end of his athletic career, but several surgeries, much rehabilitation, and sheer determination enabled him to continue playing ice hockey professionally.
Eliezer became a member of the Israeli national team and played for Israeli teams on and off throughout his career. His Jewish background has always been important to him and has affected his sports career many times; for instance, he had mixed emotions about playing professionally in the vicinity of Auschwitz. He competed on rinks throughout the world and was in Ukraine in 2021 when the Russian military invaded. He escaped, guiding a group of Israeli citizens across the border to safety.
Sherbatov’s story will be of interest to readers who love sports and has the potential to inspire many others. It shows how challenges that may seem insurmountable can be met with courage, persistence, and a strong will to succeed.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.