Soccer on Shabbat

There is a law in Israel that employers cannot force employees to work on Shabbat. It is rarely enforced. However, in the last couple of weeks, a Labor Court judge ruled that because of that law, organizing or participating in soccer matches on Shabbat was illegal. The judge order the Israeli football association (IFA) to get a permit from the government.

Who is the minister responsible for giving the permit? None other than Economy Minister Aryeh Deri. (Deri is, among other things, orthodox, and the leader of an orthodox party taht would see one of its roles, for sure, as protecting the sanctity of Shabbat. Pretty ironical.)

Next up, some foot dragging.

That sound you can hear, is Deri scrambling around trying to find somewhere to hide…

Now, given the lack of a permit, the IFA is in something of a pickle. Having warned it would do so, the IFA carried out its threat and announced the cancellation of ALL soccer games over the weekend.

On the assumption that Deri will not be rushing forward to break Shabbat, the buck will have to be passed on up the line. To Bibi.

I expect there to be some hack of a solution put together, but the situation is a bit of a balagan, and there are several complicating factors. Among the many competing issues:

  • If there’s one place in the world where you can play (professional) sports other than on Shabbat, shouldn’t that be in Israel?
  • Is it time to switch to a ‘regular’ weekend of Saturday and Sunday?
  • What about Muslim players who do not want to play on Friday?
  • What about Christian players who do not want to play on Sunday?
  • Why upset the status quo? (See here.)
  • As well as the players, the interests of the fans and TV audience need to be taken into consideration.
  • Many leisure facilities remain open on Shabbat. Are they at risk?

Am I glad I don’t have to sort this mess out!

Shabbat Shalom, said the commandoes

From the Algemeiner:

Soldiers in Israel’s Navy who set sail last week on a mission to stop an alleged Iranian weapons shipment from reaching Gaza terrorists celebrated Shabbat together by singing the traditional Shalom Aleichem hymn, the IDF said on Facebook.

“As Shabbat began last week, these soldiers had already set sail to stop Iran’s weapons shipment from reaching Gaza terrorists. In the middle of the sea, they all sang ‘Shalom Aleichem’ – a Shabbat song meaning ‘peace be upon you,’” the IDF said. “Days later, their successful mission brought peace upon the entire nation of Israel. They are our heroes.”

The members of elite naval commando unit Shayetet 13 gathered below deck to sing the song together. The soldiers, who mostly wore kippahs, put their arms around each other’s shoulders and swayed back and forth as they prayed. After the song was over, one soldier stepped forward and made the traditional Shabbat blessing over wine, to which the other officers replied in unison, “Amen.”

Days later, the unit successfully intercepted the arms shipment in the Red Sea. The boat, named KLOSC, was headed to Sudan, 1,500 miles from Israel.

One of the weapons captured, the M-302 missile, is made in Syria and is based on Iranian technology, Israel’s Walla reported. IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, oversaw the operation and gave the order to Major General Ram Rothberg, head of the Israeli Navy, to seize the KLOSC, the IDF said earlier this week.

Watch the video of Israeli commandos celebrating the Shabbat below:

Heartwarming. Inspirational.


This time last week, I was in Glasgow, getting ready to celebrate Shabbat and then the Gladstone wedding. (I miss my Glasgow family and friends. I miss that dear, green – and quiet! – place. See the picture, above.) Now, I am back in Ra’anana, and it’s Shabbat again. Time to step off the roller coaster.

Shabbat Shalom one and all.