Sportsmen denied right to compete because competition on Shabbat

Since the competition is on Saturday, the two competitors sent letters to the federation asking to compete by shooting on Friday instead. The requests, however, were denied.

October 26, 2016 18:41
1 minute read.
Nachman Rosenberg, Co-Founder Team Shabbat

Nachman Rosenberg, Co-Founder Team Shabbat. (photo credit: TEAM SHABBAT)

Team Shabbat, an organization advocating for the rights of religious sportsmen and women, has written an urgent letter to Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev calling on her to intervene in a dispute with the Israel Shooting Federation.

The federation is holding the final of an air-pistol tournament this coming Shabbat in which two religious competitors, Avishai Brat and Gad Segel, have reached and are supposed to compete in.

Since the competition is on Saturday, the two competitors sent letters to the federation asking to compete by shooting on Friday instead and for their results to be entered into the competition alongside the rest of the competitors shooting on Saturday.

Their requests were denied.

According to Team Shabbat cofounder Nachman Rosenberg, it is relatively simple to accommodate competitors who observe Shabbat in a sport such as shooting, compared to other sports such as swimming or gymnastics, where despite problems, national federations have made an effort to accommodate religious competitors.

In the letter to Regev sent by Prof. Aviad Hacohen, it was argued that all sportsmen should be given equal opportunities to compete on the basis of democratic principles.

Even though public funding is given for sporting activities and federations, religious sportsmen should not be discriminated against in the Jewish state.

Hacohen requested that Regev find a comprehensive solution to the problem of Shabbat-observant sportsmen and women.

In addition, he called on the minister to find a solution to the immediate problem facing the two religious sportsmen who have been denied the opportunity to reschedule this Saturday’s competition.

“Approximately 30% of Israelis observe the Shabbat as a day of rest, so in 2016 it is both unfathomable and unreasonable that young men and women in the State of Israel, should be forced to choose between Jewish tradition and sports,” said Rosenberg.

Attorney Yitzhak Yonsi, chairman of the Israel Shooting Federation, said in response: “Shabbat is the only free day for the overwhelming majority of shooters and staff members who participate in Israel shooting competitions.

“The Israel Shooting Federation has always observed the laws of the State of Israel and worked according to the statutes of international shooting, and has also worked to advance the Olympic sport [of shooting] in Israel.”

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