NEW YORK – Israel’s top tennis player quit in the middle of a tennis match in order to observe Yom Kippur, potentially costing him $34,000 in prize money.
Dudi Sela – who ranks 77th in the world – quit the quarterfinals against Alexandr Dolgopolov during a third set after one game at the Shenzhen Open in China.
According to sports website Vavel, the tournament’s organizers refused Sela’s request to have the match moved forward so that it would be over in time for the holiday, considered the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar.
Meanwhile, “Hebrew Hammer” Matt Bernstein and Jordan Ober both played games but fasted on the Day of Atonement.
“I kind of made these plans by accident,” the Chicago Tribune quoted Bernstein as saying.
Bernstein went to synagogue in the morning and held the Torah during Yom Kippur services. Later, he arrived at the stadium and took an IV for fluids, reasoning: “The rule is you can’t eat or drink; I don’t think the old-school rabbis thought about an IV bag.”
Ober, the report said, takes “tremendous pride” in being Jewish, as well as being Nebraska’s long snapper.
He recites the Shema prayer before field-goal and punt snaps and his towel bears the Hebrew phrase “Hineni,” meaning “Here I am.”
“I am very serious about my religion, but I am also serious about my job,” Ober told the Tribune. “I spoke with my rabbi and with God by myself. I do not want to let my teammates down.”