CHICAGO (CBS) — Often times, sports and religion will intersect — see Tim Tebow.
As CBS 2’s Megan Mawicke explains, Ida Crown Jewish Academy isn’t wrestling with their beliefs.
Against all odds, The Ida Crown wrestling team persevered. They beat out some top flight teams to become the first Jewish high school wrestling team to win a regional championship in the state of Illinois.
“I think there is team pride, there’s school pride and there is pride among the community,” says Noah Lewis, 1A regional champ at 106 pounds.
“Being able to have that title of the first Jewish team to win a regional is incredible and gives me such a pride,” says Zachary Bernstein, 1A regional champ at 126 pounds.
The team’s achievement is even more impressive because of the obstacles they’ve had to overcome. They are Modern Orthodox and observe the Jewish Sabbath from Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown, so they weren’t able to compete in regionals during the day, but their coach petitioned the IHSA and they moved the regional to Saturday night so Ida Crown could take part.
“They realized it wasn’t that big of a deal,” says Doug Klein, Ida Crown Academy wrestling coach.
Since they observe the Sabbath for 24 hours, they had to stay in a hotel near regionals with arranged kosher meals and an actual Torah for Shabbat. So another challenge became weighing in for the tournament immediately after sundown.
“It’s really tough because a big part of just getting to the match is making sure your weight is low enough. I have to check my weight throughout the day that I am not going over it, but when it was on Shabbat you can’t use a scale,” says Bernstein.
Even if they made it to the state finals, they couldn’t compete in it because it falls on a Friday night and all day on Saturday.
“I’ve had a few kids that maybe could have qualified for state and there is a little chagrin with that, but they’re comfortable with that. They’re Orthodox Jews, they’re used to living with restrictions,” says Coach Klein.
“It would be nice if we could get there to wrestle in state, but we can’t have everything, and I accept that,” says Noah Lewis.
Ida Crown is one of the few Jewish schools in the country that has won a state qualifying tournament, but their girls’ basketball team also just won a regional. And, think about this: They have a double curriculum with Jewish studies, so their school day runs from 8 a.m. to 5:30 at night, so they can only practice three times a week.