Ackerman’s Shabbos Observance No Barrier to Tournament


Estee Ackerman, the 11-year-old ping pong champion whose decision last year to forfeit a competition because it conflicted with Shabbos received widespread news coverage, will be taking part this weekend in the invitation-only 2013 North America Hopes Event, one of only four girls under 12 chosen by the U.S. Table Tennis Association to play Canada’s top four girls.

Last January, Hamodia reported on the decision of Miss Ackerman, a seventh-grader at Hebrew Academy of Nassau County. “Judaism comes first, always,” she said back then.

In this event as well, the timing seemed against her: The first round started on Saturday. Estee’s father, Glenn Ackerman, contacted International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) program coordinator Dejan Papic, who gave her permission to compete on Sunday instead. Mr. Papic, commented ITTF spokesman Will Shortz, tries to accommodate people’s religious beliefs to the maximum extent possible.

“He said we could play that Sunday,” said Miss Ackerman, in her self-assured manner. “I was extremely happy. When I first heard it was on Shabbos I was afraid I’d have to default again. I saw that someone cared that I’m Jewish and that it means a lot to me. They didn’t push it off and say ‘This is what we have to do.’”

The winner of the HOPES event wins a free trip to Austria to play at a table tennis academy.

The tournament is to  be held at the Westchester Table Tennis Center in Pleasantville, N.Y. Estee’s event is scheduled for 9:15 a.m.