High Court: Fencing nationals open to religious
Justices reject Israel Fencing Association's petition to remove injunction obligating them not to hold fencing meets on Shabbat. Fencing Association rep commits: We will find solution for full integration of religious fencer Yuval Freilich in championship
Beinish, Arbel, and Meltzer rejected the Israel Fencing Association's request to remove the interim order issued last year to ensure that competition organizers allow religious competitors to participate in national championships without breaking Shabbat.
The court proposed that the two sides reach an agreed upon solution or that the issue be arbitrated in the Israel Sports Association court, but refused in any case to remove the order before a compromise is reached.
Israel Fencing Association representative, Attn. Adi Wasser in response committed that a solution will indeed be found for the complete integration of religious competitor Freilich into the national championships, slated for April 25.
Attn. Dr. Aviad Hacohen, dean of the Sha’arei Mishpat Academic College, who represented Yuval Freilich in the case, said to Ynet, "I praise the decision and hope that all involved in the issue will indeed display good spirit to reach a solution to the problem in a manner that does not compel religious athletes to desecrate Shabbat or turn them into second class citizens in the Jewish state."
Freilich, a resident of Jerusalem, is an observant Jew who has studied in the religious school system since childhood. Yuval currently holds the national fencing champion title in the 13 and under category.
According to him and his father, who issued the petition, the sport of fencing as it stood prior to the interim order discriminated against observant athletes as some of the decisive tournaments in the sport are held on Shabbat and holidays. Freilich petitioned the court, and Justice Hanan Meltzer issued an interim order forbidding that tournaments be held on Shabbat.
Meltzer noted, "This interim order will be null and void if the necessary arrangements are made in order to allow the youth to participate in tournaments at the conclusion of Shabbat or if his participation in the Israel national team abroad is ensured in accordance with his achievements thus far and with consideration that his right to compete was disqualified (by ensuring a technical win in matches in which he was blocked from taking part)."