The parshiyot of Devarim prepare us for entering the Land of Israel, and tell us what kind of society we should build here. Here are two tiny pieces of news from last week about the society we are currently building together:
Omri Alon, the goal keeper of the HaPo’el Hadera soccer team, announced that he has quit playing so as not to have to play on Shabbat any longer. “From the age of eight I’ve been playing soccer,” he said. “I had a dream to reach the top, but with all the love that I have for the game, Shabbat is more precious to me. It is too bad that Israel’s soccer industry forces me to choose.”
A few hours later, another piece of news was published: Dan Kramer, a member of Israel’s national horse riding team, announced he would not participate in an important competition abroad since it will be held on Yom Kippur. He claims that for many months the relevant official authorities in Israel could have acted to change the date of the competition, but didn’t. This is what Kramer wrote to the Israeli Riders Association:
“I decided not to participate in the upcoming World Championship in the United States because I want to respect this day and the Israeli and Jewish community in Israel and in the world. I believe that it would be a grave error of judgment to compete on this holy day despite the professional consequences that would harm my chances of qualifying for the Olympic Games.
“I’m also not willing to compete ‘below the radar,’ as was suggested to me more than once in my talks with key personnel in the Association since I believe that every game in which the Israeli National Team participates should be an event that brings hearts closer and that fills every Israeli and Jew, wherever they are, with pride.”
The choices of these two people are admirable. The question is whether in the Jewish-democratic state we established here after 2,000 years the situation shouldn’t be different.
Dear Omri Alon and Dan Kramer, forgive us. We probably are too busy with headlines over “hadata” [an accusation that religious people try to brainwash everyone to be religious too; every mention of anything Jewish usually draws immediate media cries of “hadata!”].