Israeli high school students teach Australians about Shabbat

An unusual story from Sivan Rahav-Meir's column in the Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

Sivan Rahav-Meir ,

The Israeli booth in Australia
The Israeli booth in Australia
Credit: Courtesy of the photographer

I've often written about contestants who gave up international competitions because of the holiness of Shabbat. The following story is different: The junior high school robotics team from a school in Modiin is currently in Australia, at the First Lego League competition with another 80 delegations. The delegations are presenting the robots they programmed during the course of the year.

The competition began on Thursday and will end on Sunday. The team members, along with their teacher, Tzachi Green, decided not to compete on Shabbat.

The organizers of the competition agreed to move some of the assignments to Friday. Before Shabbat, the students will set up a large sign next to their robot, with the statement: "Why aren't we here today? Because today is Shabbat, the day of rest for the Jewish people." They're also attaching a code which can be scanned to access a video explaining the meaning of Shabbat in English.

The principal of the school, Lior Halevi, wrote a personal letter to his students this week: "When I saw the sign that you prepared for Shabbat, I was filled with excitement and pride. You may lose some points, but from my perspective, you won. We're happy to live in the generation after the Inquisition, after the decrees of destruction and after the Holocaust. Today, sacrifice is made out of love, willingly and not out of coercion, of presenting Shabbat as a value to the entire world."