Why You Should Know the Name of Beatie Deutsch

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Beatie Deutsch may not be a household name, but she should be. She is a running dynamic who moved to Israel from the United States. After having four children in six years she started running to get back into shape. She used training for a marathon as her carrot and she ran and ran until she not only entered and finished a full marathon of 42.195 kilometers (67.906 miles), but she came in sixth place after running for three hours, twenty-seven minutes and twenty-six seconds. That wasn’t enough for her. She kept running and entering more and more marathons.  In fact, even while she was pregnant with her fifth child she ran again in a Tel Aviv marathon – and finished with an excellent time. In 2018, she was the first woman to cross the finish line of the Jerusalem Marathon with a time of three hours, nine minutes and fifty seconds.
Yes, I admire Beatie, or Bracha as she is known in Hebrew, for going after her goal and attaining such high standards. Running in Israeli marathons (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beit She’an and Tiberias) didn’t quench Beatie’s thirst. This year she also ran in Riga, Latvia in a half-marathon where she came in first and in Cape Town where she reached her personal best.
I really admire her get up and run. But I am not finished with why I am so impressed with Beatie. She is going to try out for the 2010 Tokyo Olympics! The thought of a thirty-year-old mother of five spending so much time practicing her sport is amazing! And this is not something that she has been doing for ever. She only started running in 2015.
Beatie has another fight on her hands now. Besides hitting the pavement with her feet, she now has to forge a battle with the Olympic Committee. When she started to think about running in the Olympics she checked the day of the event and it was on a Sunday. However, they recently changed the event to a Saturday and Beatie is an observant Jew. Even when she runs she covers her hair, wears a skirt and long-sleeve shirt. If the Olympic Committee does not change the event back to Sunday, or any day other than Shabbat Beatie will not enter the marathon.
You can say that this is her choice and not care, or you could be proud of her for keeping her principles. As much as she would like to represent Israel in Tokyo, she will not do it at the expense of what she believes to be the right thing to do. Now, that is honorable!
Tamir Goodman, who played basketball with a cipa (skullcap) on his head and tzitzit (ritual fringes) flying out from under his shirt was named The Jewish Jordan (after Michael Jordan) by Sports Illustrated magazine.  He picked which college scholarship he would accept by who would meet his demands. While most players care about the best college for their sport, money and other benefits, Tamir demanded that he not practice, travel or play on Shabbat and that he would have kosher food available.
Think of Sandy Koufax. He impressed many people when he would not pitch the first game of the World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur. This was a really big deal. Not only was it the World Series but Sandy Koufax was not religious.
These three exemplify determination and hard work which helped them get to the top of their game. That is honorable and admirable in itself. But no matter how much they care about their sport, they also cared about their religion. They have or had red lines about which they were not wishy washy. They were clear, even if it meant not pitching a game in the World Series, or going to the best college for basketball, or running in the Olympics.
Being proud and mindful of our Jewishness is very important. There are many reasons these days to hide one’s identity and try and fit into society at large and be a universal person. However, there is something about background, faith, religion, culture and/or identity which is also important. And our heritage is precious.
Ahad Ha’am, who is known as the founder of cultural Zionism (1856-1927) is also famous for writing, “more than the Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.” We, as individuals, may feel that we can’t keep a whole religion or people alive, but we can keep our faith and our principles alive. We can stick up for what we believe in. We can be proud Jews whether it is on the basketball court, in the baseball diamond, on the Olympic track field, in our communities and certainly in our homes. Be a proud Jew!
Marcia Goldlist is a regular contributor of blog postings on Jewish Values Online. She was the author of one of the blog postings selected for the Second Quarter 5779 Jewish Values Online Best Blogs.
Please note: All opinions expressed in Blog Postings and comments on the Jewish Values Online site and through Jewish Values Online are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, beliefs, or position of Jewish Values Online, or those associated with it.
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