Beatie Deutsch (Instagram) (Instagram)
Beatie Deutsch (Instagram)



Beatie Deutsch emphasizes that, despite pressure to compete, observing the Jewish day of rest is more important than any apparent opportunity to advance her athletic career.

By Ben Rappaport, United with Israel

Israeli champion marathon runner Beatie Deutsch, who also happens to be an Orthodox mother of 5, has announced that she will not be participating in the upcoming Budapest marathon, because it is to take place on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath.

In a Tuesday Facebook post, Deutsch discussed the challenges she has faced as a Shabbat-observant professional runner, emphasizing that, despite feeling pressure to compete, her commitment to the Jewish day of rest is ultimately more important than any apparent opportunity to advance her athletic career.

“In 2019, the women’s marathon was scheduled for Friday night in the Doha World Championships. No big deal, I thought… This was just a rare occasion where they put the race at night due to the extreme heat. My career was just getting started and there would be more opportunities.

“In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the women’s marathon was moved to Saturday morning, once again precluding me from competing. I was extremely disappointed but there was nothing I could do.

“Even once the Olympics were rescheduled due to Corona, they still refused to make any religious accommodations (although they had done so in the past when Ramadan coincided with the London Olympics).

“In 2023, Budapest World Champs, once again scheduled the women’s marathon for Shabbat. And so even though I have qualified, I will not be able to compete.

“I have kept Shabbat my entire life and it’s a mitzvah I cherish dearly. I never imagined myself even contemplating otherwise, and yet for the first time in my life I found myself feeling pressure to compete on Shabbat.

“‘How can we keep funding you if you have yet to actually be part of an Israeli delegation??’

“‘I’m sure we can find a Rabbi who will tell you it’s ok.’

“Suddenly, the struggle all our Jewish grandmothers faced back in the 1920’s, when they were told they’d lose their jobs if they didn’t show up on Saturday, feels a lot more real.

“Will I lose my funding if I don’t prove myself and compete? I’m giving up such big opportunities Maybe this profession isn’t actually viable as an Orthodox Jew?

“And I wonder– Is there any room for religious accommodations in sport? Is there any way to make changes to the system? Can we respect religious beliefs amongst athletes?

“I find myself doing the unthinkable and asking my rabbi if there’s some way I can run..I know in my heart I could never do it, but I have to ask.

“I’m not surprised by his answer, only shocked that I even considered it.

“And as I reflect on my journey, and the intense challenges and obstacles I’ve faced along the way,
I know that the sacrifice I make for Shabbat, the commitment I make to uphold this holy day, is the most precious choice I will take with me.”



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