Nationally ranked player was told her religiously observant outfit was “disgusting” and “embarrassing,” American non-profit Jew in the City reports.
By World Israel News Staff
An Orthodox Jewish table tennis player was harassed at the U.S. National Championship by another player’s family due to her modest attire.
Twenty-year-old Estee Ackerman told Orthodox blogger Jew in the City that she was caught off guard by hurtful remarks about her religiously observant style of dress at the event in Fort Worth Texas, earlier in July.
Ackerman has competed in the sport – also known as ping pong – since the age of eight and is nationally ranked in 7th place in Israel and 40th in the U.S.
She was set to compete at the National Championship in the women’s doubles quarterfinal with another female player, with whom she was previously acquainted, the report explains.
But on the morning when Ackerman and her potential partner were set to meet up for practice, she received a phone call from the player’s mother.
The woman berated Ackerman for her competition clothes, which include a long skirt worn with athletic tights underneath and a T-shirt worn with “shooting sleeves,” an arm covering frequently worn by professional athletes.
“She told me I didn’t look professional and that I didn’t seem to be taking the tournament seriously,” Ackerman told Jew in the City.
Ackerman’s father said the woman called his daughter’s outfit “disgusting,” “ugly” and “embarrassing.”
Shortly thereafter, the partner’s mother forced her daughter to default the match, robbing Ackerman of the opportunity to play.
“It ruined the entire day and the rest of the tournament for me. Sports are supposed to be fun. Competitive yes, but everyone should be equal,” Ackerman said.
“As the years go on, the whole world is increasingly working with people of all different genders, religions and cultures. I’m all about bringing peace and joining forces with different people in the sport. It’s very sad and absurd that I experienced what I did. I just want people to compete in a healthy environment, one which I’ve usually experienced in my time in table tennis.”
Ackerman and her father told tournament director Mike Baubin about the incident, whom they said “felt terrible.” Baubin assured them that he would work to ensure that the situation never happens again.
Despite the unpleasant experience, Ackerman said she has no plans of giving up the sport she loves any time soon.
“I’m the only Jewish, Orthodox athlete doing this,” she told Jew in the City. “I don’t compete for the medals and the trophies, I want to show people that they can dream big and never think Judaism is going to get in the way of their goals.”