Jewish Roller Derby: A Game Without Borders

Roller derby is an incredibly athletic high-speed sport played on roller skates. It is a grass-roots sport that emerged from riot grrl culture, and is predominated by women, non-binary folk and queer folk.

The rules of the Roller Derby World Cup are that you just have to prove that you have ancestry from the nation you are intending to represent. But for many Jews in the Diaspora, proving ancestry can be a difficult thing. Some of us have no documents at all, and for those that do have papers, a lot of them only say “Stateless”, because so much was lost during the Holocaust.

Jewish Roller Derby was created in 2019 with the intention of playing in the 2022 World Cup as a “borderless nation”. Jews are a religion, but more than that, we are a culture and we have a distinct identity as Jews.

I joined Jewish Roller Derby in September 2019, and in this presentation I will tell the story of this incredible team – how we came together as Jews and athletes, honoured our cultural identity, and came out to the world in the WE ARE NATION: A Game Without Borders in Montreal in November 2019.



Allison Vanek

Toronto Roller Derby All Star Team