UPDATED INFO: The Efrat Fencers Case comes before the courts on Thursday, 12 Kislev, December 8. I spoke to Eyal the fencing instructor, who feels very strongly that the courts will rule against religious discrimination for these terrific young people.
Jewish children from religious homes throughout the world who participate in sports are faced with challenges all the time. Not only do they train with all their hearts for their sport, they have to do everything they can not to compromise their religious principles.
Often we read about Jewish basketball players or gymnasts or swimmers from different countries, who give up participating in "the big game" (or a little one) because of their devotion to the Sabbath or Jewish holidays.
I can understand these conflicts in Britain, America, Australia or anywhere in the Diaspora, but a Torah Jew should not have these problems in Israel, a Jewish country.
Torah-observant competitors should not be penalized because they cannot compete on Sabbath. Sports competitions should be held n a day when everyone can compete.
In fact, an article in Israel National News from three years ago reaffirms that swordspersons do not have to compete on Shabbat: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/128077#.Tt6CArLhd_8
In October 2008, "The court ruled in favor of Yuval Freilich, a national champion in fencing in the under-13 category who brought a case against the national fencing association." The judge ruled that either Freilich could compete on Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night) or he would receive a technical victory in any competition held on Shabbat.
Three cheers for Efrat's talented swordspersons who want to advance in fencing, and yet more than anything, treasure the Sabbath and want to observe it and keep it holy.
Here is their petition. Please sign it:
We Sabbath observers Swordspersons, wishing to participate in competitions. Israeli swordsman union decision to hold the fencing competitions on Shabbatot, except for the Championship, prevents us participate in these competitions. This decision affects our right to Progress in the sport of fencing. We ask you to help us make the union change the day of competition.
Please, Enter the petition site and sign:
Efrat fencing class children