Israel’s marathon champion, Bracha “Beatie” Deutsch expressed her outrage upon realizing that the marathon of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was scheduled on Shabat (the Sabbath). Deutsch is a religious Jew. Competing on the Sabbath is forbidden in accordance with the holy day’s spirit – especially on the professional level as working is strictly forbidden for Jews on the day of rest. The athlete is a mother of five and competes with a long skirt and head-covering for religious modesty reasons.
Although she hasn’t yet qualified for the Olympics as the trials have yet to take place, Deutsch has already broken records in a number of international track competitions and marathons.
The Israeli Olympic Committee is trying to get the venue to change to Sunday, and if not, Israel’s hope for a Gold Medal by a Haredi mother of 5 will just not happen.
Deutsch took to Instagram to express her outrage saying:
I felt like I was punched in the stomach this morning…
but the truth is I’m more than OK. I wasn’t sure if I should share the news with all of you right now, but I’ve brought you along on my journey this far. .
Today I found out that the Olympic marathon date has been switched to Shabbos.
When I decided to pursue my Olympic goal in January, the first thing I did was check the marathon date to make sure it wouldn’t conflict with Shabbos. It was scheduled for Sunday August 2 and so I knew I could compete. When they announced the World Championships would take place on Shabbos, I remember not even feeling disappointed because I knew I had the Olympics. There have been several other competitions that were on Shabbos, but it’s never even been a question for me. In fact, recently a journalist asked me what challenges I face as a Charedi female runner, and I almost laughed thinking there aren’t really any… I said a bit too confidently, “Running is very compatible with my religious lifestyle”
Until now. Suddenly things got real very quickly. Because I’ve been pretty public about my Olympic dream…and I’ve invested a whole lot to get myself there…and what if.. what if after all that I make it and I can’t even run?! .
I’m racing Israel’s half marathon championship tomorrow — and I know that even though I am personally frustrated by the news I need to stay relaxed and happy. So here’s what I’m telling myself right now👇
I will continue to train and push myself to the best of my ability to try and qualify. Regardless of whether the race is switched or not, I’m not letting go yet. I am a fighter, I don’t give up easily and I will do whatever I can to get the Olympic marathon date changed
It’s hard to fully invest myself when I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to run but life isn’t always about the results, sometimes the journey is even more important. And I’m here for the journey… .
I may not make it the Olympcs… I may not make the standard or I may not be able to run a race that is on Shabbat But one thing I do know is that I will continue to proudly represent what it means to be an Orthodox Jewish women and professional runner for Israel🌎