11 Year-Old Ping Pong Champ Won't Play on Shabbat
An 11-year-old Jewish girl opted out of competing in the 2012 U.S. National Table Tennis Championships because the final match fell out on Shabbat.
Estee Ackerman told The New York Post that she was greatly disappointed to see that her match would be taking place on December 21, a Friday night, and therefore would not be able to compete.
“[O]f course I’m disappointed,” she told the paper, adding that she practiced and trained for six months to prepare for the competition.
“Ping pong is important to me, but my religion of Judaism is also very important to me,” said Ackerman, who is ranked fourth nationally in the 8-to-11 age bracket.
“She had a Shabbos-over-sports moment,” her father Glenn Ackerman, a funeral-home director, told The Post. “She had to withdraw from the event as tournament officials would not reschedule it for after Shabbos.”
“Hopefully, other Jewish athletes will also look to Estee to pursue their dreams in whatever sport they choose,” he said.
While Estee is only 11 years old, she often beats players in their 20s and 30s, her father told the paper.
While she expressed great disappointment at not being able to compete, Estee said she does not blame event organizers for the scheduling conflict, adding that she hopes to one day represent the United States in table tennis at the Olympics.
“I hope to try out for the Olympic team and one day bring back a medal for my country,” she said.