Israel’s Culture Minister will skip Rio opening ceremony due to Shabbat

Marcy Oster

An ariel view of the Rio 2016 Olympic Park, which will be secured in part by an Israeli high-resolution imaging satellite. (Photo courtesy Rio 2016)

An ariel view of the Rio 2016 Olympic Park, which will be secured in part by an Israeli high-resolution imaging satellite. (Photo courtesy Rio 2016)

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Israel’s most senior official expected to attend the upcoming Rio Olympics announced on Sunday that she would not participate in the opening ceremony on because it takes place on Shabbat.

The opening ceremonies are scheduled to take place on the evening of August 5, a Friday night.

“Shabbat, our national day of rest, is one of the most important gifts that Jewish people have given to the culture of humanity,” Regev said in a statement released Sunday, the Jerusalem Post reported. “As the representative to the state of Israel, the sole Jewish state on the planet, I unfortunately cannot take part in the opening ceremony of the Olympics because it would require me to break the holy Sabbath.”

Miri Regev is not known to be religiously observant. Her predecessors as culture minister who also were not religiously observant attended such ceremonies.

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There were attempts to house her and her staff within walking distance of the Olympic Village so she would not have to drive on the Sabbath, but security officials told her that it would not be possible to guarantee her safety, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Regev is expected to attend the unprecedented ceremony to honor the Munich victims at Rio’s City Hall to be co-led by the International Olympic Committee along with the Olympic committees of Israel and Brazil on Aug. 14.

Israel will make its 16th appearance at the Olympics by bringing to Rio its largest delegation ever, with nearly 50 athletes for the Olympics. Some 10,000 Israelis are expected to make it to Rio to root for their national heroes.

RELATED: Top officials put a Jewish stamp on the Rio Olympics

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