Wristbands provide observant Jews opportunity to attend football games

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By Ben Cooper
For the Mitzpeh
@BCoopz7

As this university’s football team continues to build on its recent success, one game on the remaining schedule stands out. On Saturday Oct. 22, the Terrapins will battle Michigan State at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium; the only nighttime home game all year for the Terrapins.

Jewish students who adhere to the rules of Shabbat generally have a difficult time attending football games, that take place during Shabbat, since part of Shabbat observance includes not making a transaction, or eating food that was prepared during Shabbat. The Michigan State game is the first home night game in years, starting at 7:30 p.m., after Shabbat has ended, meaning that Jewish students who observe Shabbat will be able to attend without worry.

For the games that do take place during Shabbat, this university’s ticketing department tries to accommodate Jewish students by offering a process where a wristband can be obtained a few days before the game so that students would not have to swipe their IDs on game day during Shabbat. Making a transaction during Shabbat would go against the observance of Shabbat, hence why the wristband option is available. However, once students get into the game, there are various other aspects of the setting that some believe go against keeping Shabbat.

Rabbi Aderet Drucker, Maryland Hillel’s campus rabbi & director of Jewish Life and Learning, explains that Shabbat observance varies from person to person. She believes that the wristband system is an excellent option for Jewish students to attend games, so long as those students are comfortable with what they are exposing themselves to at the stadium.

“I think the wristbands are a great option. There are going to be students who opt in and there are going to be students who may not be comfortable,” said Drucker. “But for the students who are comfortable obtaining their wristband in advance and want to be at the game, this could be a great option.”

She explained that there are a variety of ways to view the experience in the stadium during Shabbat. For example, the large screens in the stadium may be a bother to some, while others may see it as a situation in which because they didn’t turn the screens on themselves during Shabbat, it does not interfere with their Shabbat observance.

Currently, only basketball games have a kosher food option for Jewish students. Drucker believes that implementing a kosher option for football games would make the experience that much better for an observant Jew on Shabbat. Additionally, there should be a way for students to obtain this food without making a transaction.

“In advance, you could reserve [food], and then you could get your food by just saying your name. There would be no transaction, and the food would be prepared before Shabbat,” said Drucker.

As for other aspects of a football game that may conflict with Shabbat observance, the live music that the band plays may be a problem for some. In the end, it’s a matter of how each person observes Shabbat. Some Jews may feel that a football game with Shabbat-friendly options is an excellent idea, whereas others may hold that a football game would violate their Shabbat observance.

1 Reply to "Wristbands provide observant Jews opportunity to attend football games"

  • comment-avatar
    Oliver Wood October 20, 2016 (5:16 pm)

    A conservative rabbi’s explanation of how this development affects observant Jews may be slightly misleading. One would think from this article that the motivating factor in an observant Jew deciding whether to attend a football game is what a Jew is “comfortable” with and how “some Jews may feel”; this is certainly the way that conservative Jews are taught to operate, but a traditional Torah mindset, from what I understand, is more concerned with that which something external – an involved Creator who cares about how sincerely we serve Him – both through our grand acts of love (say, giving tzedakah / fasting on Yom Kippur) and through our ‘minor’ acts of love (bringing home flowers for a spouse / determining whether it’s halachically acceptable to attend a football game on Shabbat and, if so, whether attending the game will beautify Shabbat and enhance our love for it and for G-d, or whether it will do the opposite).