The Teenage Runner Who Chose the Sabbath over the Championship

In fall 2021, Oliver Ferber—then a sixteen-year-old and a stand-out athlete at a pluralistic Jewish day school in suburban Maryland—made one of the most difficult decisions of his young life. Like one of the two protagonists of the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, Ferber decided to sit out a championship race being held on Shabbat. Sam Borden tells his story:

Oliver Ferber stood still. In front of him, everyone was moving: his classmates, his running partners, his teammates—they were all striding and sprinting and pushing themselves through the biggest race of the year on this Saturday morning in November 2021. On any other day, Oliver thought, I’d be among them—maybe even in front of them. On this day, though, he only watched.

It wasn’t about the running, really. It wasn’t about sports at all. It was about faith and conviction and belief. It was about the weight that comes with confronting one of the hardest questions a person can face: What do you do when everyone you trust is telling you to do one thing, but you’re pretty sure you’re supposed to do the exact opposite?

During the early days of the pandemic, Oliver found himself gravitating more and more toward his Judaism. He began praying more. He began connecting with other Jews who were more observant through youth groups. He began taking a stricter approach to the holiness of Shabbat.

Read more at ESPN

More about: American Jewry, Judaism, Shabbat, Sports

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security