Eliezer Sherbatov signed last week to play for the local team in Oswiecim, the Polish name for Auschwitz.
Proud to have signed a contract with Unia Oswiciem 🏒 Re-Plast Unia Oświęcim
“People here in Poland are happy that a Jew from Israel came to play for Auschwitz,” he told the Y-Net. “I am happy to make this history, and of course want to help not forget the Holocaust.”
Meet #13 Eliezer Sherbatov team captain for the Israel National Team. Born in Rehovot, Israel. Position: Forward. He has played in 3 U18 and 5 world championships. He is the first Israeli to play in the KHL. Thanks for your dedication!!! 🇮🇱🏒🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/uO6rGCz6te
— israelhockeyfoundation (@israelhockeyfnd) June 5, 2019
“I have a great deal of motivation because it is Auschwitz,” Sherbatov told Y-Net. “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, who is Jewish, moved with his family from Israel to Laval, Quebec when he was two years old. His parents were originally from Moscow and were fans of the Montreal Canadiens ice-hockey team. According to Sherbatov, his family was permitted entry into Canada by immigration officials because his father said he wanted him to be like Guy Lafleur, a Canadian and one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.
Sherbatov is the captain of Israel’s national team, which is mostly composed of non-professional hockey players. “People would hear that I’m from Israel and they would laugh, but then see me on the ice and realize how fast and strong I am,” he said in an interview last year with the Israel Sports Excellence Foundation
The Auschwitz concentration camp was a complex of over 40 concentration and extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II and the Holocaust, with the main camp located about one mile from the town of Oswiecim. Of the 1.3 million people sent to Auschwitz, 1.1 million died. The death toll includes 960,000 Jews. Those not gassed died of starvation, exhaustion, disease, individual executions, or beatings. Others were killed during medical experiments.