By Jeremy Rabbani
For Jon Rathauser, Israel National Lacrosse Team member, the sport is more than a game. Lacrosse is his very connection to the land of Israel. The Princeton, New Jersey native took annual trips to Israel with his family in his youth, and finally moved here with the chance to play for the national team.
The former McGill standout has become wildly successful in his time in Israel, in addition to attending Technion University’s MBA program and playing for the national team, Rathauser founded Keheala, a company which improves healthcare access and treatment outcomes by empowering patients with behavioral interventions. His company brought him to Kenya, where had a chance to not only connect Israel with other countries through sport, but to grow the game of lacrosse globally. He credits his brother, who made Aliyah a year before, with helping make his transition easier.
This summer, Rathauser is competing for Team Israel in the 2018 World Lacrosse Championship in Netanya. “It’s going to be a huge honor representing something bigger than myself, and representing the place I’ve been living the past four, five years,” Rathauser said. “It’s going to be amazing to play at home.”
For the first time in the competition’s history, the games will be held out of an English-speaking nation. This is an example of lacrosse growing popularity around the world.
In 2014, Israel had a very strong showing at it’s first world championships, and is looking to improve on their last performance. The returning Rathauser has had an interesting journey to get to this point. “I’ve been with the program for about 6 years now and have played in every major tournament that our national team has been in. There are competitive tryouts, but a big responsibility of being on the team is growing the sport in the country.”
Rathauser, in his time here in Israel, has been committed to aiding Israeli youth through the sport and always takes the opportunity to help. The dual-citizen will be more than honored when he steps out onto the Netanya pitch for the first time.
“I’m more than excited to have people cheering on,” Rathauser said. “Especially at home, it’s going to be very special.” Rathauser and Israel will be cheered on heavily. Most of his family members, and many of his friends will be in attendance.
To prepare for the championships, Rathauser and his teammates have been training for over a year, ramping up the intensity as the tournament nears, hitting the weight room and the track. According to Rathauser, this is a key time to build team chemistry.
But holding the championships means more to Rathauser and Israel than just a competition. “It’s an amazing opportunity to grow the sport here. It’s special, the whole country is coming together, the media is getting involved, and I’m ready to show the country, and world our ability. I’m ready to compete and represent, and I have extremely high hopes about what we’re going to do in this tournament.”
Rathauser, who describes lacrosse as a game that has benefits that you can use on and off the field, will continue to try to spread the sport in Israel. Lacrosse is what connects him to the land.
“Lacrosse is that thread in my life and this summer will be a new patch in my life’s quilt.”