As a representative of his nation, Dan Kremer felt he couldn’t participate in the World Championships on Judaism’s holiest day.
By: Beth Stern
Dan Kremer, a show jumper on Israel’s national team, announced his withdrawal from the World Championships in the United States in September due to the competition’s being held on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Hebrew calendar.
Kremer is not religious, he told Ha’aretz in an interview, “but for me the decision comes because I represent the country and the flag.”
In his letter informing the Israeli federation of his decision, he wrote, “I want to honor this day and the Israeli and Jewish public in Israel and the world. I believe that it would be a serious mistake in judgment to compete on this holy day, despite the consequences sports-wise of not participating in such a major and important competition [as it] would hurt my international score and my horse and the chances of reaching the Olympics.
“As far as I am concerned, this is not a matter of personal judgment. As a proud Israeli and Jewish athlete, I do not intend to offend the feelings of the Israeli public and the Jewish world in general and to compete on the holiest day for us,” he stated.
A few days after his withdrawal announcement was reported in the Hebrew-language media, Kremer wrote on the Follow Team Israel Facebook page that “hundreds of Israelis” had already sent him and his family messages of support, including the Chief Rabbi of Israel, David Lau.
“After many months in which the subject bothered me, and a few days of real emotional turmoil, I feel much more at peace now with my decision, which may have hurt me slightly in the sport and the economic end but strengthened me in many other ways and touched the hearts of so many Israelis and Jews in Israel and abroad,” he said.
“As I told the rabbi, there is me, Dan Kremer, the private athlete who can do whatever he desires on Yom Kippur, but under the flag of our people, one is no longer private but a symbol of a proud nation and people.”