#WorldCup: It may be all over… but we won’t know, as England play Sweden on Shabbat!
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#WorldCup: It may be all over… but we won’t know, as England play Sweden on Shabbat!

With the Three Lions playing their crunch quarter-final match on Saturday afternoon, some observant Jews are going to extreme lengths to avoid finding out the score

England's Kieran Trippier (left) and England's Harry Kane celebrate their side winning the penalty shoot out during the FIFA World Cup 2018, round of 16 match at the Spartak Stadium, Moscow. 


Photo credit: Adam Davy/PA Wire.
England's Kieran Trippier (left) and England's Harry Kane celebrate their side winning the penalty shoot out during the FIFA World Cup 2018, round of 16 match at the Spartak Stadium, Moscow. Photo credit: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

From an extended Shabbat schluff to staging a shul lock-in – or simply running away to a remote island – more observant fans might have to go to extremes to avoid finding out the England v Sweden quarter-final score, when the two teams meet on Saturday.

The Three Lions’ biggest game in two decades kicks off at 3pm, so the Shomer Shabbat will have to wait nearly six hours to find out if Gareth Southgate’s side has gone through to the semi-finals, a feat not achieved in 18 years.

Richard Verber, communications director of United Synagogue (US), said: “Being in the ‘easy’ side of the World Cup draw may help the England football team, but it’s proving a challenge for Jewish fans with the quarter-final falling on Shabbat.

“I know of US members coming up with all sorts of elaborate ways to avoid finding out the score until after Shabbat, including an extended Shabbat schluff, having seudah shelishit in the park and staging a lock-in at shul. I hope their efforts will contribute to a place in the semi-final!”

The mid-afternoon start, however, means shulgoers can say an extra prayer, just hours before kick-off, and Rabbi Michael Laitner, senior rabbi of United Synagogue Jewish Living and assistant rabbi of Finchley Synagogue, believes that will be the case.

He said: “I know I’ll be praying extra hard every morning, especially on Shabbat, and am sure this will be replicated across all our US shuls. Come on England!”

Synagogues have already got into the World Cup spirit, with England’s dramatic last-16 penalty shoot-out win against Colombia on Tuesday evening screened at three US – Highgate, Mill Hill and Finchley, while Belmont hosted a ladies-only supper quiz, as the men watched the match.

Earlier in the day, Jewish Care hosted a special 1966 day at Michael Sobell Jewish Community Centre. Run in partnership with Maccabi GB, Sporting Memories Foundation and Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, pupils from Independent Jewish Day School shared World Cup trivia and sporting memories with members.

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