Aug. 15 — In response to the recent controversy over the Belgium-Israel Davis Cup match scheduled to take place on Yom Kippur, Hiddush-Freedom of Religion for Israel called on the International Tennis Federation to respect the Israeli Tennis Association’s right to freedom of religious expression. The Israeli team had agreed to compensate the Belgian Tennis Association more than $13,000 for the inconvenience of changing the date so the teams would not play on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
Rabbi Uri Regev, CEO of Hiddush, protested this settlement, saying: “The notion that the Israeli Tennis Association needs to compensate the Belgian Tennis Association in order to respect the holiest day in the Jewish calendar is incredibly disrespectful to the team, their faith, and tradition. This “solution” blatantly disregards the cherished value and universal right of religious freedom, as protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
While recalling the American Jewish baseball legends Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg, who refused to play during the World Series in 1965 and 1934 respectively, Regev remarked, “It is inconceivable to imagine that the Belgian Tennis Association would have to compensate their opponents in order to move a match from Christmas or any other principal religious holiday. This is due in great part to the reality that one would never consider scheduling a match on Christmas. Can we not expect the same treatment for all of the world’s major religions?”
He stressed that, “This international competition should be a badge of honor for multicultural participation in sporting events, but unfortunately the irresponsible handling of the scheduling conflict and consequent settlement has tarnished the Federation’s reputation in the eyes of advocates for freedom of religion and conscience.”
After sending the letter, Rabbi Regev emphasized the need to internationally respect religious freedom and hoped that the Federation would reconsider their decision and change their policy in the future.
What is Hiddush?
Hiddush is an advocacy and public education organization that works to strengthen Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and to realize the promise of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, “for religious freedom and equality for all”. Hiddush is a non-denominational, non-partisan partnership between Israel and world Jewry.
For more information contact:
Rabbi Uri Regev: (646) 334-5636 / firstname.lastname@example.org
or Adam Ross: +972(0)54-954-8494/ email@example.com