Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rest on Shabbat or play in March Madness?

It's long been a conundrum for many Jewish pro and high-level amateur athletes who have been brought up in observant homes and have attended Jewish schools.

Unlike Tamir Goodman  – the so-called "Jewish Jordan," who played NCAA basketball at Towson University in the early 2000s and decided to be true to his upbringing by not playing on Shabbat – Zach Yoshor, a freshman guard for the Harvard Crimson has chosen to play on the day of rest, but the decision has not been an easy one.

And now that his team has made the NCAA's year-end tournament by winning the Ivy League title, more Saturday games are a distinct possibility.

Raised in an observant home in Houston, Yoshor also attended a modern Orthodox high school, the Robert Beren Academy, that doesn't schedule games on the Sabbath.

For Harvard basketball games that do occur on Shabbat, Yosher keeps religious violations to the bare minimum by refraining from using his cellphone or writing. Twice this season, he has flown separately to games to avoid taking team flights on Shabbat.

On team bus rides on the day of rest, he reads books to pass the time.

For more on the story, see Hillel Kutler's post to JTA .

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