Dudi Sela, Israel’s top men’s tennis player, retired in the middle of a tournament match in Shenzhen, China, because Yom Kippur was about to begin.
Sela, who according to his brother “isn’t a religious man and he doesn’t usually fast on Yom Kippur”, decided to retire as it was approaching sunset in China and the onset of the holy day. The decision meant that he forfeited ranking points, as well as tens of thousands of dollars in prize money.
As his brother put it, “he didn’t do it because he was afraid of anyone, or because he was asked to. He did it only because he respects Yom Kippur and the country which he represents.”
Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency, wrote on Facebook:
Your courageous decision to stop your match on the eve of Yom Kippur fills us all with respect and pride. Honoring Jewish tradition isn’t the domain of a particular part of our people, but rather constitutes the basis of our resiliency for thousands of years. Whoever attempts to tally how much you lost by doing what you did is performing the wrong calculus: your tremendous gain is in strengthening our resiliency as a nation, as well as strengthening your own standing along us.
I wish you much success, both athletically and personally.
Shana Tova and G’mar Hatimah Tovah
He was also praised by Miri Regev, the Culture and Sport Minister:
“I was so moved to hear that you had stopped your game in the middle due to Yom Kippur commencing. You are a professional with many achievements in Israel and abroad and at the end of this week you proved that you are also an ethical person who first and foremost represents Israel. May G-d bless you and stand by your side as you continue on your way. I am proud of you and am looking forward to meeting you in Israel.”
Wow – what an inspiration!