Red Wings' Mathieu Schneider is
headed for Turin Olympics.
. I Chanan Tigay
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
athieu Schneider's father
calls him "the Wandering
Over the course of his 17-year
National Hockey League career,
he's played in six different cities.
Currently a star defenseman for
the Detroit Red Wings, he's
bounced from Montreal to Long
Island to Toronto to Manhattan to
Los Angeles and now Detroit.
"I've been fortunate throughout
my career to play in cities with
tremendous Jewish communities:'
said Schneider, 36."I feel as though
I've been a role model in each city
that I've played in. There are very
few Jewish hockey players, and ifs
been a nice role for me and I've
really enjoyed it."
Schneider is in Turin, Italy, this
month as a member of the U.S.
Olympic Hockey Team. This time,
he's hoping to just enjoy the expe-
"The first time around [in 1998]
there were so many uncertainties:'
said Schneider, a native of New
York. "It was the first time the NHL
went to the Olympics. The travel
was really tough."
Schneider has played in more
than 1,000 NHL games since 1987.
Washington's Jeff Halpern, Los
Angeles' Michael Cammalleri and
Schneider are believed to be the
only Jews in the NHL. Schneider
says his religion hasn't been a
problem on the ice.
Early in his career, he recalled,
there was an incident in which an
opposing player used an ethnic
"That was the first time I heard
any of that stuff. I made a mental .
note that the next time I had a
chance, I would run the guy into
the sideboards. And I did." But out-
side of that – and one other simi-
lar experience at the start of his
career – "there's never be any kind
of taunting on the ice."
In the intervening years, the
NHL has instituted sensitivity
training for its players, and
Schneider thinks it's working. "I
think society in general has .
become a lot more aware of it, and
the sports world just kind of
caught up," he said.
Schneider, who maintains a
hothe in California and is a mem-
ber of the Jewish Community
Center in Redondo Beach, said that
over the years he has made an
effort to sit out on Yom Kippur and
fast. It's generally not too hard, he
said, because the High Holidays
tend to fall during training camp
and not during regular season
• Schneider's mother converted to
Judaism to marry his father. Today,
he said, "she's probably the most
knowledgeable of the whole fami-
ly" about Judaism.
Schneider and his wife, who has
been in the process of converting
for the last couple of years, have
three children — and one more on
the way. They are, he said, being
raised as Jews.
As you get older, and especially
when you have a family, religion
becomes more important:' he said.
"I was raised as a proud Jew and I
believe a lot of the lessons Judaism
teaches relate really well to family.
"In the times we live in, I think
ifs very important to give children
that sense of guidance,' he added.
"Jews have always stuck
Jewish Olympic Contenders
There are more Jewish athletes who compete in the Summer
Olympics than the Winter Games, but there are still a number
participating in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, which
run from Feb.10-Feb. 26.
Here are some Jewish athletes expected to compete:
Ben Agosto, U.S. (skating)
Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski, Israel (skating)
Sasha Cohen, U.S. (skating)
Melissa Gregory, U.S, (ice dancing)
Michael Renzin, Israel (skiing)
Mathieu Schneider, U.S. (hockey)
Jamie Silverstein, U.S. (skating)
Alexandra and Roman Zaretzki, Israel (skating)
February 9 • 2006