Much like Eric Liddell, the real-life athlete who sat out an Olympic race because he refused to run on the Sabbath—a story made famous by the movie Chariots of Fire—Bracha (a/k/a Beatie) Deutsch is sitting out an international competition for the same reason. But while Liddell was a devout Scottish Protestant who wouldn’t run on Sunday, Deutsch is an Orthodox Jew who won’t run on Shabbat. Shiryn Ghermezian writes:
Deutsch, a New Jersey native and mother of five who moved to Israel in 2008, explained in a Facebook post on Wednesday that she qualified for the World Athletics Championships Budapest 2023. However, the women’s marathon is scheduled for a Saturday, making it impossible for Deutsch to participate.
“I have kept Shabbat my entire life and it’s a mitzvah I cherish dearly,” Deutsch said in her Facebook post. “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.”
“I was extremely disappointed but there was nothing I could do,” said Deutsch, thirty-five, who is a previous winner of the Tiberias Marathon and the Jerusalem Marathon. [She] added that even after the Olympics were rescheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic, “they still refused to make any religious accommodations (although they had done so in the past when Ramadan coincided with the London Olympics).”