Posted by: ppernick | September 23, 2004

Religious Observation Versus Important Work Events

My brother mentioned this to me last night, but it wasn’t until I saw the article that I actually understood what he was talking about (he tends to not speak very loud on the phone sometimes).

Shawn Green of the LA Dodgers will not play in Saturday’s game because of the Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur. The reason that this became headline news-worthy is because the Dodgers are currently in a heated race for first place in their division, with two key games overlapping with Yom Kippur.

I, for one, am extremely happy with his decision.  I have wondered a few times in the past if there were any sports players who would decline to play because of a Jewish holiday, and I now see that there are such players.  Players who, regardless of what it may look like to others, feel the obligation to observe their beliefs is too important to ignore.  I can also understand him playing Friday night out of loyalty to the team.  This series appears to be a huge one and to miss two games could seriously hurt the Dodgers post-season.  While I, personally, don’t like missing Kol Nidre (which is the very beginning of things Friday night), I think if he’s going to sit one and not the other, he’s made the right choice.

I can actually sympathesize in a way.  One of the ways that I observe Judaic traditions is by not working on the Sabbath – Friday night to Saturday night.  However, last year my employer scheduled a mandatory Training event to be held all day Friday and most of the day Saturday.  I approached the President and explained the issue.  I could tell she wanted to say I had to go, but legally could not.  I spent 2 weeks agonizing over this but finally decided against it – partially thinking that if I decided to go and do work they could point at it later and say, “well you worked this Saturday, so you are willing to make exceptions.“  But mostly I decided against it because that’s my day of rest.  If I do nothing else I will do my best to observe the 10 commandments, and Honor the Sabbath is number 4, I believe. (I later discovered that there had been a request from high up in the company to pressure me in attending…it didn’t work and if that person honestly thought that news would never get to me they were highly mistaken and my respect for them was significantly reduced.)

And actually, this points me to just one little thing I’d like to comment on.  In one of the articles I read about Green trying to decide how many games he would play, they make the comment that Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.  Fact is, that’s wrong.  Yom Kippur is not the holiest day, Shabbat is.  The Sabbath tends to get overlooked because it happens every week, but Shabbat is the only holiday we are commanded to celebrate.  Yom Kippur just happens to be the holiday that most Jews observe.  Giving them a chance to cleanse themselves and start new.

Anyway…this post is about 10 times longer than I expected, but needless to say I’m happy with Green’s decision and I hope the Dodgers win Friday night.

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