Ottawa

Quebec Jewish hockey player agrees to play on Sabbath

A talented Quebec junior hockey player from Montreal has agreed not to observe some of the strict rules of his Jewish religion after officials threatened to cut him from the team if he refused to travel or play on Saturdays.

Benjamin Rubin and Gatineau Olympiques reach a compromise

A talented Quebec junior hockey player from Montreal has agreednot to observesome of the strict rules of his Jewishreligion after officials threatened to cut him from the team if hedidn't travel or play on Saturdays.

The Gatineau Olympiques managed to reach a compromise with 18-year-old Benjamin Rubin on Tuesday, allowing him to play forward this season, said team governor Charles Henry.

Benjamin Rubin has agreed to miss only three-regular season games during Yom Kippur. ((CBC))

"We finally were able to get all the pieces put together," Henry told CBC-TV. "There were a lot of things such as religious holidays that were in the way, and we were able— with different rabbis of the religion to help us out— to make do, and make some concessions."

Rubin, a prospective NHL draft pick who plays left wing,is an Orthodox Jew.

If he observed his religion's prohibition to travel by vehicle orwork during the Jewish Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, he would have missed eight games in the 70-game season.

The Olympiques hockey team did not consider that to be a reasonable accommodation, and told him he needed to commit 100 per cent or be cut from the team.

In the end, Rubin agreed to play the entire regular season except for three games during Yom Kippur.

Rubin would not commenton his decision, butReuven Bulka, an Ottawa rabbi who helpedhim decide, said Tuesday:

"The rabbi side of me says, 'I wish he would have chosen the Sabbath.' The hockey side of me says, 'You know, he chose hockey.' Practically speaking, you know, I don't envy him. He had a very hard decision to make."

Last year, whilehe was with the Quebec Remparts, Rubin played only 29 games.

The only day of the weekthat the Olympiques never play is Monday.

A number of other high-profile athletes have made a public effort to compromise between their sport and their religion.

In 1965, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax sat out a World Series game because it fell on Yom Kippur, and NHL veteran defenceman Mathieu Schneider, who's now with the Anaheim Ducks,makes an effort to sit out during the Jewish holidays to fast.

Corrections

  • Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, not the Jewish New Year's Day as originally stated in the story.
    Sep 13, 2007 7:20 AM ET

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