Daily Israel Report

Yeshiva Sports Are Prep for Life, IDF Service

A simple basketball competition in the national religious yeshiva league may actually be preparation for future life skills and IDF service.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 1/12/2010, 10:55 AM / Last Update: 1/12/2010, 11:10 AM

Flash 90

Basketball finals for the yeshiva high school championship were recently held between teams from around the country -- but a simple sports competition may be more than it appears on the surface.

The event at the Givat Washington College campus featured a hotly-contested game which pitted the Rehovot yeshiva against Kiryat Herzog of Bnei Brak, with Rehovot taking the game, 51-43.

Dr. Meir Abukasis, organizer of the league, told Arutz Sheva that the games were held in a “positive atmosphere befitting yeshiva high school students. Although the tension of competition was felt in the air, everyone separated after the game with a friendly handshake.” He noted that one could see the improvement from year to year in the way the teams were prepared for the competition.

The Talmudic sage Maimonides, he added, emphasized the importance of maintaining the body’s health, abilities and strength. In keeping with that philosophy, he said, youth work just as hard at their learning as they do at relaxing through sports, both of which feed the soul. Abukasis stressed that the games, as opposed to other competitive arenas, did not focus on the identity of the top player or the winning team but rather on the event and the values attached.

Regarding the involvement of national religious educational institutions in sports activities, Abukasis added that physical education teachers are becoming increasingly aware of the combat abilities of their students. They are adjusting their curricula to tap those strengths, he said, and to further develop the youths’ potential in those areas.

Most students who attend national religious yeshivot enter the Israel Defense Forces upon graduation, either through the Hesder Yeshiva program, 'Mechina" pre-army Torah academies or through regular army service.