Don’t mention the score! Rabbis’ tips to avoid England-Ukraine Euro spoilers
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Don’t mention the score! Rabbis’ tips to avoid England-Ukraine Euro spoilers

As observant community members face an extra 120-minutes of shpilkes, we ask three football-loving rabbis how they plan to avoid spoilers on the day

Francine Wolfisz is the Features Editor for Jewish News.

England's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring at Wembley
England's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring at Wembley

As 55 years of hurt were wiped away with England’s 2-0 victory over Germany on Tuesday night, more observant Jewish fans of Euro 2020 were left with a sinking realisation: the quarter-final against Ukraine takes place during Shabbat!

It means those who observe the day of rest will not be able to watch the match until 10.25pm – more than two hours after kick-off.

Some communal members now face an extra 120-minutes of shpilkes, but Rabbi Barry Lerer of Central Synagogue remains remarkably unperturbed.

He said: “I’ve been doing these lock-ins for 30 years. My first one was the 1990 World Cup. A group of 10 of us went to early mincha and then we all came back to my home for the rest of the afternoon and prayed together in the evening.” 

“I recorded the match and we all watched it together after Shabbat. I followed this recipe for Euro 96 and the 2010 World Cup.”

Meanwhile, Rabbi Alex Chapper of Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue took a more philosophical approach, infused with Jewish humour.

Rabbi Alex Chapper

 He said: “Whenever this happens it reminds me of the story of the man who approaches his rabbi asking what he should do because his team is playing on Shabbat. The rabbi answers, ‘Why don’t you record it?’ to which the man replies, ‘Rabbi, I didn’t know I could record the Shabbat morning service!’

Meanwhile, Radlett United Synagogue’s Rabbi Jonathan Hughes – a former professional footballer for Reading FC – has even come up with his own special bracha for Saturday’s match. 

“He who blessed our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, bless Reb Gareth Southgate’s England team,” wrote Hughes.

“May He who wrought miracles for our ancestors grant Sterling, Maguire, Grealish and Rice strength, wisdom and courage to vanquish the enemy.

“Oh and please forgive Pickford for his challenge on Van Dijk. Kane yehi ratzon. And let us say Amen.”

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