Yom Kippur 1937 – crossing the line

September 25, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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Yom Kippur coinciding with major sports events has often created a dilemma for athletic-minded members of the Jewish community…and 1937 presented one such problem with a unique solution.

Springbok centre Louis Babrow found himself in a sporting quandary in Auckland when he was supposed to take the field for the South African International rugby side against the All Blacks.

It was a crucial game but the 22-yr-old centre, the youngest member of the team, found himself scheduled to play on Yom Kippur.

What do do?

Louis Babrow

Utilising his South Africans initiative, Babrow claimed that since he was not a Kiwi,  he had to respect the time Yom Kippur was observed in his native country…creating a window during which he could play the match!

Babrow is reported as having said to fellow Springbok, Danie Craven: “I’m a South African Jew, not a New Zealand Jew  and New Zealand is eight hours before South Africa in time. When we are playing, the holy day will not have yet dawned in South Africa”.

Babrow scored two tries and made a third…a historic win for the Springboks beating the All Blacks 17-6 on their home ground and winning the Test series 2-1.

Babrow was the cousin of Morris Zimmerman,  the first Jewish Springbok.

Last weekend, Avram Grant, the Israeli manager of English Premier League side West Ham, observed Yom Kippur and did not join his side for their match against Stoke City.

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