Thursday, February 21, 2008

Shomer Shabbat Student Discriminated Against in Basketball Competition in Miami


This calls for some intercession from her competitors.

If the other girls in this competition know this is going on, that she is being discriminated against for keeping her religion and for refusing to bend on that, I would hope that they would all sit down and refuse to compete until Shabbat was over--allowing this girl, in the spirit of sportswomanship and fair play--to compete on a level playing field.

I can't imagine that any of them would want to win by discriminating against another girl . I will hope that the next news story I see on this event is one of inspiration, of sportswomanship, and of community strength in the face of a discriminatory policy.

Please, pass this story around and get an e-mail campaign going. Lets give these girls the strength they need to support true competition.

Also, please contact the Florida High School Athletic Association to end this policy:

John A. Stewart, Ed. D
Executive Director
1801 NW 80th Boulevard
Gainesville, FL 32606
Phone: (352) 372-9551 ext. 110;
Fax: (352) 373-1528


Star student may lose 'Queen of the Hill' chance due to Sabbath By LONA O'CONNOR
Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Boca Raton basketball player may be edged out of a state contest because the contest occurs on the Jewish Sabbath.

Bassie Orzechowitz, a senior at Weinbaum Yeshiva High School, won a regional three-point shooting competition earlier this month, making her eligible for the "Queen of the Hill" championship in Lakeland.

The competition is on Friday evening in Miami, when observant Jews refrain from most worldly activities to honor their Sabbath.

The Florida High School Athletic Association allowed Orzechowitz to compete earlier on Friday for one level of the competition. But the association turned down a request from her high school athletic director to postpone the next level of competition - should she win - to after 7 p.m. Saturday night, when the Sabbath ends.

In an e-mail to Weinbaum athletic director Jon Kaweblum, FHSAA associate director Jack Watford wrote, "I have no problem in allowing Bassie to shoot her round of competition at 2 pm Friday. With regard to the tie-break procedures, there is no accommodation that we can make there. The other Class 1A shooters will compete at the regularly scheduled time of 6:12 pm. If a tie occurs involving Bassie, she will have to forfeit the tiebreaker as she will not be present to compete in it.

"Also, be aware that if Bassie wins the Class 1A competition outright, she will qualify to compete in the Queen of the Hill overall competition Saturday at 6:15 pm. If, however, she is unable to participate in this competition we will advance the 1A second-place shooter."

Weinbaum Yeshiva principal Perry Tirschwell said he tries to be laid-back about conflicts with the Sabbath when he can, but decided that it was time to make an issue about what he sees as an unnecessary exclusion of a talented athlete.

"I told them, 'You can either be known as discriminatory or inclusive, it costs you nothing.' I only complain if it's relevant, and now it became relevant. I don't want the message to an 18-year-old kid to be that if you're Jewish you can only go so far."

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