Shabbat Observant Athletes Won’t Need to Compromise Their Principles

The Knesset Committee for Social Justice last week announced that the Sport and Culture Ministry will make its financial support of 180 million shekels to sport clubs dependent on if they accommodate Shabbat observers and don’t force them to play or enter competitions on Shabbat. This means the club must make the effort not to organize competitions on Shabbat that would preclude Shabbat observers from the chance to win. Games that are played on Shabbat should have other non-observers to play in their stead.

Yesterday (Wednesday) the Ministry of Sport and Culture informed the Supreme Court that they will follow the guidelines to accommodate Shabbat –observers. This makes the clubs obligated to keep these conditions. Social justice committee head Miki Zohar says that many young athletic men with soccer playing talent don’t participate in playing soccer because they know down the line they will need to compromise on Shabbat which they are not willing to do. Zohar says 70% of professional soccer players don’t want to play on Shabbat and he promised that the ministry’s entire approach to Shabbat has changed dramatically since MK Miri Regev became Minister of Culture and Sports.  

In this committee discussion trainer and coach Yaron Hochenbaum was present and he claimed that he is contractually obligated to give interviews on Shabbat or face steep fines of thousands of shekels. Now in preparing for the next Knesset discussion about this Regev instructed sport clubs to find solutions for religious and ultra-religious athletes.

“The privilege of being able to live a full life of sport is for religious people too. It’s our obligation to ensure them fully equal opportunities,” says sport minister Miri Regev. Our decision that we passed on to the Supreme Court is a meaningful step in fulfilling the mandate I announced when accepting this position. We can expect sports organizations that receive government support to work in a way that will accommodate talented athletes to reach their potential and succeed in competitions in the highest levels without needing to sacrifice their beliefs or their conscience and the holiness of the Shabbat.”


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