You didn’t have to be Jewish to appreciate Ed Snider, as former players, dignitaries and hundreds of Flyers fans made abundantly clear at an Oct. 18 unveiling of a 9-foot-tall statue outside the Wells Fargo Center.
Perhaps Mayor Jim Kenney put it best.
“There’s an old Yiddish term that applies to him,” Kenney said. “Ed Snider was a mensch. He never whined. He never complained. He just did.”
That was especially true when it came to his role within the Jewish community and issues such as the support of Soviet Jewry.
“He’s well known for his charitable giving to Jewish causes and causes that support Israel,” said his daughter, Lindy Snider. “Our family foundation, which is another one of his wonderful legacies, has Israeli and Jewish causes as one of its focuses.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman described his relationship with Snider.
“Obviously, we both have similar religious backgrounds, but that wasn’t what defined our relationship,” Bettman said. “It was our mutual passion for life, family and community, and being Jewish was a part of that.
“It didn’t have to be stated, but there was a common cultural background, and we had the ability to relate to each other on a lot of levels. And if you’re looking for common causes, we both were part of donating a rink in Metulla for the Maccabiah Games.”
When City Councilman Al Taubenberger thinks of Snider, one word comes to mind.
“Success,” replied Taubenberger. “His success was an inspiration to people, whether you were Jewish or not. He was able to help because of his great success.”
Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) supporter Steve Stadlin said Snider’s commitment to freeing Soviet Jews in the mid-1970s left a lasting impression on him. That trickled down to the ice in January 1976 when the Flyers faced the Red Army team in a contentious game.
“I went to the Spectrum on Christmas Eve and met Ed Snider,” he said. “He gave us 13,000 Flyers Stanley Cup yearbooks to insert our information about Soviet Jews to give out at the game. Then they wanted to stop the game because there were 80 million Russians watching and we had signs up. He told us, ‘You have to take the signs down or they won’t play. But it’s up to you. I won’t make you take them down.’”
Eventually the signs came down, the game was played and the Flyers won 4-1 to claim world hockey supremacy.
Bettman said he always appreciated Snider’s commitment, which went beyond his impact in the Jewish community.
“The world loses a man who was so multidimensional and so passionate and committed to everything he did,” he said. “He made a difference in people’s lives.”