College football gets its first Orthodox Jewish player

Yeshiva high school graduate Sam Salz becomes the first Shabbat-observant player for a college football team after joining Texas A&M.

By World Israel News Staff

American college football got its first-ever Orthodox Jewish player earlier this year, with the addition of a yeshiva high school graduate to Texas A&M’s “Aggies” football team.

Philadelphia native Sam Salz, an alumnus of Kohelet Yeshiva High School in Merion, Pennsylvania, joined the team as a running back mid-season, and has since been training with the squad.

Speaking with Collive in an interview published Tuesday, Salz said that as a Sabbath-observant Jew, he is forced to sit out nearly half of all the team’s games.

In other cases, Salz has to walk to the stadium for games which begin shortly after the end of the Sabbath.

Nevertheless, the Texas A&M sophomore says that his teammates and coaches have been supportive of his religious needs.

“From the coaches to the assistant coaches to my teammates, everyone involved here has been extremely friendly and respectful.”

Salz said the team is even going to great lengths to provide him kosher food an upcoming event.

“A small example of this is that for an upcoming banquet being held for the players and their guests, they arranged kosher food to be brought in from out of town just so that I should feel comfortable.”

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Along with his kippah, Salz sports a number 39 jersey, which he says he picked in order to further highlight his religious identity, noting that it correlates to the 39 types of labor forbidden during the Sabbath under traditional Jewish law.

On campus, Salz is active with the Texas A&M Chabad branch, continuing his involvement with the Chabad movement that began in his early teens.

Last year, Major League Baseball got its first-ever Orthodox Jewish draftees, when Jacob Steinmetz and Elie Kligman were picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Washington Nationals respectively.