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

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy