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Meet the Lone Shomer Shabbos Athlete in Beijing Olympic Games

olympics.gifBat-El Gaterer is Israel’s lone Shomer Shabbos athlete, scheduled to compete in the Taekwondo competition.

Her training crew explains that while other athletes are ingesting high-protein bars for quick energy between competitions, she will be using instant soup containing high doses of MSG.

Coach Noa Shmida explains that the issue of her dietary restrictions is indeed problematic since she is not eating as healthy as she feels she should, but on the other hand, she is Israel’s only athlete competing in the Taekwondo, so she must be doing something right.

She recalls their time in Belgium for another match, selecting a hotel close enough to the competition to walk on Shabbos. Noa says Bat-El is strict, and there are no elevators on Shabbos, or any electric appliances, and they are compelled to accommodate her believes for she is uncompromising regarding halacha.

Bat-El grew up in the Shomron community of Kochav Yaakov, and attended high school in the Ulpana in Ofrah. Noa explains that she will not practice on Shabbos and her matches are not held on Shabbos. All this she explains was checked in advance.

Israel’s Olympic athletes arrived in China on Tuesday.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

11 Responses

  1. Kochav Yaakov is not in Shomron, but in Binyamin. It is located just north of Jerusalem and next to the hareidi neighbourhood of Tel Zion.

  2. I suppose it’s all right for girls to learn martial arts to protect themselves, but, to perform in public in front of men (even dressed fully covered) is a breach in Tznius. I hope this sweet Jewish girl, who is concerned with keeping Shabbos and Kashrus, will grow in her Yiddishkeit and give up her competition in the Olympics one day and settle down to become a frum aidle aim b’Yisroel.

  3. Bidievad she is probably “Shomer Shabbos”, and probably more. The fact that she is making tremendous sacrifices by keeping Shabbos and Kashruth is more important than some of the other details (she’s frum, not hasidic, but frum).

    Her costume is respectable enough by modern Orthodox standards (unlike “Beach volleyball” which is probably treff according to everyone). Her response when asked about “negiyah” (she doesn’t hold that kicking boys is asur) and Shabbos (when she competes on Shabbos, she isn’t doing it for pay and avoids any malachos), while
    not something we’ld encourage for our own daughters, is reasonable. The extent that she insists on halacha in spite of the secular world, and the detriment to herself in doing so, is a kiddush ha-Shem.

  4. Anyone know why she is ingesting large quantities of MSG? Isn’t it very unhealthy? Just trying to understand what nutritional basis she might have for this. It’s not like there are no kosher energy bars available.


    With postings such as this, commenters should be extremely careful balancing the concepts of al tidon chavercha (especially if you don’t know the whole story) and that of not compromising in Yiddishkeit. While it is wrong to make someone into a hero if they aren’t leading ideal lifestyles (such as #4 and I’m sure many others will point out), We should be weary of attacking anyone personally.

    That being said, it is a kiddush hashem when anyone keeps shabbos. However, someone like you, #2, is accomplishing at least the same level of kiddush hashem when you keep shabbos and all other mitzvos living in a makom torah. And so is any woman who leads a hashkafically ideal lifestyle bringing up her family, and living as far as possible from the public eye. kevoda bas melech penima. We should definitely give kiddush hashem points to those immersed in Torah all day, and if we find shortcomings in their lifestyles (generally or individually) we should not be quick to attack and dismiss them entirely, just as we (and you) were so kind to give credit to this woman.

  6. I don’t understand Canadiyid”s comment–why does s/he think the story will cause an uproar? To those of us who work in a non-Jewish world, Bat-El is a wonderful exemplar of someone who can manage a secular life while not compromising her religious one. my family and I will be cheering her on!

  7. do you know her?????????????? no???????
    then why are you judging her????????????
    mayeb she doesn’t have a problem with negi’aa because she’ll compete against women?????????????
    in the olympics, my friends, it’s class aginst class.
    meaning women vs women, men vs men.
    as for tznius?
    will you be there?
    maybe she’s dressed b’tznius?
    maybe sh’es a lot frumer than all of us- but her yetzer hara is tznius?
    GO BAT-EL! GO!


  8. hope she is looked up to as a role model for her fellow israelis for her amazing courage—maybe this will bring them closer to Yiddishkeit

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