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In Tompkins, a ‘Rolling Rabbi’ Against Men With Sticks

Sitting on their couch one Saturday night while in college, Roni Jesselson and his roommate Mike Dabah started talking about how much they missed hockey. They had played in Jewish youth leagues, and discussion soon turned to how they could re-connect with the game they loved. They decided to organize a casual pick-up hockey league at Tompkins Square Park.

“We were like, ‘We have to do this’,” said Mr. Jesselson, 26, a documentary filmmaker who lives in Greenwich Village. “And from there it bloomed.”

At first, they used garbage cans instead of a net and goalie. Mr. Jesselson and Mr. Dabah would call friends late into the night trying to scrap together enough players for a game of three-on-three. But gradually, the scrimmages increased in organization, and in popularity. Today, five years later, the league’s mailing list boasts 45 people from as far as Queens or New Jersey.

The players are an “eclectic mix” of Jews (both religious and non-practicing, Mr. Jesselson said) and the game takes on a uniquely Jewish twist. Read more…