Naama Shafir Wins the Modesty Battle

Basketball star, Naama Shafir, joins Israel's national team after they agree to her uniform requests.

Published: June 20th 2011
in News » World

Naama Shafir.

Orthodox Israeli basketball star, Naama Shafir, has been in debates with Israel’s national team for several weeks regarding the uniform she would be expected to wear if she decided to join the team. The team’s jersey has players exposing their shoulders, going against her Orthodox beliefs.


Shafir has overcome many challenges in her career thus far. Luckily, her athletic skill is strong enough for the University of Toledo to make sacrifices for the basketball players’ religious observance. During her three years playing for the University, Shafir was able to wear a t-shirt underneath her jersey, and was not expecting to practice or play a game during the Sabbath. The Ohio-based University even special ordered kosher meals for her from Detroit.


After graduating from university, Israel’s national team wanted to snap her up. Shafir was thrilled with the offer, but explained that she must maintain a certain level of modesty- which meant no bare shoulders. The team informed her that international basketball regulations require uniforms to be “uniform”.


Shafir believed that her future in professional basketball might be impossible, as she refused to compromise her religious beliefs under any circumstances. Luckily, FIBA has now permitted Shafir to play if her uniform had “skin-toned elastic sleeves.”


Naama Shafir played in a tournament with Israel on Saturday. In a television interview following the game, she explained that her new uniform, with the “nude-coloured” nylon and spandex sleeves extending to the wrist wasn’t very comfortable, but the slight discomfort is worth being able to pursue her dreams.


Shafir had unlimited support during this battle. In Toledo, Ohio, the basketball player is a local celebrity. At the 2011 Women’s National Invitational Tournament, she brought the University of Toledo Lady Rockets to a national victory by scoring 40 points, and was named MVP.


Shafir first came to Toledo from a small town of 350 families in Israel called Hoshaya, where she is one of nine children. She feels eternally indebted to the university and her coach as they went to great measures to ensure that she was comfortable and achieved athletic success, while still observing Shabbat and kashrut.

Related articles: (Naama Shafir, Basketball, University of Toledo, Israel National, Orthodox, Kosher, Shabbat )
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