Orthodox Jewish teen comes up short in Olympics ping-pong bid, sits out on Shabbat

(JTA) — An Orthodox Jewish teen from suburban New York City came up short in her bid to make the U.S. Olympics table tennis team and did not compete in the trials on Shabbat.

Estee Ackerman, a 14-year-old freshman at the Yeshiva University High School for Girls in Queens, lost matches for two consecutive days at the trials last week in Greensboro, North Carolina. The three-day trials finished on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.

“I know my decision is the right one because, in life, I will always keep Judaism as my No. 1 priority,” Ackerman, of West Hempstead on Long Island, told Newsday.

Ackerman, the 14th seed among the 16 competitors, lost twice to fifth-seeded Prachi Jha, an 18-year-old from California. The winner on each of the three days of play advanced to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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“I know I didn’t win, but it was such an amazing feeling to know I was one of 16 women in the country who worked so hard just to get here,” Ackerman told Newsday. “It was such an honor, such a cool feeling.”

Ackerman has been competing in ping-pong for six years, often practicing up to four hours a day, five days a week.

She was disqualified from the 2012 U.S. National Table Tennis Championships when she opted not to play her final match, which fell on Shabbat.

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