The Tzohar rabbis’ group has called upon Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat to intervene on behalf of Naama Shafir, a religious member of the Israeli National Women’s Team, who wants to wear a T-shirt under her game shirt in the team’s upcoming game.
FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, has refused to honor Shafir’s request, which is based on the principle of modesty. It continues to demand that she wear her sleeveless game shirt with no T-shirt underneath it.
FIBA says that wearing a different shirt could afford the player with an advantage, and that the rules cannot be changed for a single player.
Tzohar chairman Rav David Stav wrote Livnat that the Tzohar rabbis “cannot be suspected of obstinately sticking to severe halachic (Jewish legal – Ed.) rulings while ignoring reality and its complexities.”
“Precisely because of this we see fit to express our full halachic support for Naama's decision not to play in a sleeveless shirt, and our disdain for FIBA’s insensitivity to her religious needs. Naama’s decision clearly corresponds to halacha and we are proud of the price she is willing to pay as a Jew for her principles.”
“On the other hand, we think it is inconceivable for the Israeli national team and the Israeli government to take part in discrimination against a Jewish player just because of her insistence on Jewish tradition. We ask you to make every effort to allow Naama to realize her abilities, to contribute to the Israel national team and to represent the values of the Nation of Israel.”
“In standing up for her principles Naama becomes a national symbol that should be encouraged,” the rabbinical letter added.