As the world mourns the passing of the celebrated soccer player, Pelé, a most unique hockey team has just lost the state championship. This team is made up of Jewish Sabbath-observant players. 

Although they lost, it is significant that they made it so far. Not only are these teenagers traditionally religious, but the hockey team also has no tryouts—which is unheard of.  They accept all the teenagers that will not join other teams as they won’t practice on Friday nights, Saturdays, and any Jewish holidays. During the summer, they don’t practice as a team because most of these boys go to summer camps. And yet, they’ve made it so far. In a world obsessed with celebrities, these amazing teenagers can be outstanding role models.

Similarly, a young man by the name of Ryan Turrel was recently drafted to play in the NBA. He previously led Yeshiva University’s basketball team to a record-breaking fifty-game winning streak. Someone who knows him well said that he is as much of a “mentch” (exhibits fine behavior toward others) as he is an outstanding player. 

There is an ancient Jewish custom that some parents continue to observe on Friday night. They bless their sons “May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe”. These were Jacob’s grandsons, born and raised in licentious, idol-worshipping Egypt and yet still faithful and religious. In the same way, we aspire to hold on to our faith in these confusing times. 

By Rabbi Eli Reit

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