An 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl was disqualified from a ping-pong/table tennis tournament after declining a match on the Sabbath. Estee Ackerman, from Long Island, New York had planned to take part in the match but was disappointed when she realized it was taking place on a Friday night, which is observed as the Shabbat.
In an interview with The New York Post, the young prodigy discussed her decision:
“Of course I’m disappointed. I practiced and trained for six months for this. Ping pong is important to me, but my religion of Judaism is also very important to me.”
Estee, who is in sixth grade, is currently ranked in forth place in the 8 to 11 year old division but enjoys challenging competitors twice her age.
Her father, a funeral home director, agrees with her decision. He stated that his daughter simply had no choice when the ping-pong tournament officials refused to reschedule to a different date. He was quoted by Fox News as stating:
“I believe everyone in life has certain things that they love to do, maybe they love to cook, they love to play golf, they love to work, but the Sabbath, unless you’re a doctor or a fireman – you have to save people’s lives – the Sabbath takes precedence over all these things.”
According to the CEO of USA Table Tennis, out of eight events that Estee entered, this was the only one she was unable to complete.
Estee’s father acknowledges that it would have been nearly impossible for the tournament to be rescheduled as there were 60 events and 800 players involved. He felt organizers of the event did a “very good job.”