Sunday, September 9, 2007

Young hockey player must choose between hockey and religion

Eighteen-year-old Benjamin Rubin has a dream of playing in the NHL, but it might be harder for him to realize his dream because of his religion. Rubin is an Orthodox Jew and does not play hockey or practice with his team on the Sabbath - which is from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown.

Last year, he had a chance to play for Patrick Roy on the Québec Remparts, but he missed almost half of the games because they were played on Friday night or Saturday afternoon. Roy told him at the end of the 2006-07 season that he could return and play on the 2nd or 3rd line, but that he would have to play every game. Rubin chose to not accept Roy's deal, and so he was traded to the Gatineau Olympiques.

Rubin will not miss as many games in Gatineau (8, compared to 35 in Québec), but he must still choose between hockey and religion. Gatineau wants to respect his religious beliefs, as did Québec, but they need to keep their team together.

So Rubin now faces the most difficult decision of his life: does he keep his religious beliefs, or does he play the game that he loves and hope to make the NHL. It certainly doesn't look as though he can have both.

Update (09/13/07): Rubin and the Olympiques have come to an agreement. Rubin will travel with the team and play hockey on the Sabbath, but he will miss three games for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

I don't envy the position that he was put in, having to choose between your faith and hockey, and I can't say whether he made a good decision or a bad one, but my guess is that it will make him happy. At least I hope it does, and I hope that he doesn't feel guilty (or that others make him feel guilty) for making this choice. I wish him all the luck in the world.

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