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Orthodox Point Guard Naama Shafir

Lawrence Bush
April 1, 2017

Naama Shafir scored a career high forty points on this date in 2011 to lead her basketball team, the University of Toledo Rockets, to a National Invitational Tournament title. A native of Hoshaya, Israel, Shafir was the first female Orthodox Jew to earn an NCAA Division I scholarship. Her school and team accommodated her needs for a kosher diet, to wear a t-shirt under her jersey (modesty), not to practice from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday (she received dispensation from her rabbi to play in games but not practice), and to walk to those games that were played on the sabbath. A knee injury prevented Shafir from becoming a professional in 2012, and she remained a college player for five fabulous years. After graduating in 2013, she returned to Israel, and played professional basketball there. That same year, however, she was barred from competing with the team in the European basketball championship because uniform rules barred her from wearing her t-shirt beneath her jersey. In her championship game, Shafir sank thirteen baskets and thirteen of eighteen free throws. To see her in action, look below.

“The game was one of the most incredible moments of my life. There were over 7,000 people there, and during those seconds when the game was over and the whole crowd ran to the court, I experienced an unbelievable high.”--Naama Shafir

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.