Frum Ping-Pong Prodigy Disqualified Because Of Match On Shabbos


estee-ackermanShe doesn’t spin on Shabbos.

Ping-pong prodigy Estee Ackerman, an 11-year-old from Long Island, was disqualified from her final event at the 2012 US National Table Tennis Championships in Las Vegas last Dec. 21 when her match fell on Shabbos Kodesh and she chose not to play.

“I advanced in my round robin and then we looked at my schedule and saw the next match would be during Friday night, which is our Sabbath, so of course I’m disappointed,” Estee told The Post.

“I practiced and trained for six months for this,” the sixth-grader from West Hempstead said. “Ping pong is important to me, but my religion of Judaism is also very important to me.”

Estee is currently the No. 4 ranked player in the 8-to-11 age bracket, although in the world of competitive ping pong she often challenges and whoops players in their 20s and 30s.

“She had a Shabbos-over-sports moment,” said her father Glenn Ackerman, a funeral-home director. “She had to withdraw from the event as tournament officials would not reschedule it for after Shabbos.”

Ackerman spends hours almost daily training with his daughter, whom he bills as one of the country’s biggest up-and-coming Jewish athletes.

“Hopefully, other Jewish athletes will also look to Estee to pursue their dreams in whatever sport they choose,” he said.

Neither Glenn nor Estee hold ill will toward USA Table Tennis, the sport’s governing body, because there were nearly 800 players to schedule over the five-day event.

“We clearly try to be inclusionary in the manner in which we run our events,” said Michael Cavanaugh, CEO of USA Table Tennis. “Estee entered eight events and played to completion in all but one of them.”

Fortunately, the last event she had to miss had little impact on her ranking.

Since she was little, Estee has practiced almost daily while attending a local yeshiva.

Her big break came in July during a tournament in Grand Rapids, Mich., when she was discovered by professional player Biba Golic, the top celebrity endorser of the Killerspin line of ping-pong products.

“She’s the real deal, that’s for sure,” Golic told The Post. “We were looking at prospective kids and suddenly noticed this little girl. She instantly caught our eye. You could see her character immediately.”

They saw her play an adult man.

“Tactically and strategically she has a natural sense for the game,” Golic said. “When you start to play against a 30-year-old guy the natural reaction for a girl is to get scared and she was not taken by fears. She was just playing her game and beating this guy.”

At her tender age, Estee now has a sponsorship from Killerspin and is an official member of the “Killer Krew.” The company has flown her around the country for exhibition events and Golic is mulling sending her to China for a summer of intense training.

Already, Estee has her eyes on joining the US Olympic table tennis team – an event that the US has never once medaled in.

“I hope to try out for the Olympic team and one day bring back a medal for my country,” Estee said.


{ Newscenter}


  1. We are all so so so so so proud of you Estee!!!

    She was quoted saying “Ping-pong is important to me, but my religion of Judaism is also very important to me.” but it should read:
    but my religion of Judaism is MUCH MORE important to me.

    One can’t compare the importance of ping-pong and the importance of the Holly Shabbos in any way shape or form.

    Mazel Tov!!!! for making a real Kiddush Hashem, I’m sure Hashem will pay you back, many times over.

    One the other hand some may argue that for a Jewish girl playing sports in public touches on Tznius issues they would advise for Jewish Girls not to enter public sports in the first place. Consult with your local Rabbi. I’m not a Posak.

    This is real Mesiras Nefesh to make an amazing Kidush Hashem.

  2. huge kiddush hashem.

    eventually with more and more cases like these, we will see leagues become more flexible.

    for all you who wish to be mean and denigrate her accomplishment and hold her (or her parents) in contempt and call her a loser, or tell her she should worry about saying tehillim and learning how to cook, please be nice and refrain from such cruel comments.

    Who knows,she may read these comments and may get turned off.


    Remember, not everyone is like you, and there are different hashkofos and lifestyles fully compatible with being a shomer shabbos yid.

  3. “One the other hand some may argue that for a Jewish girl playing sports in public touches on Tznius issues they would advise for Jewish Girls not to enter public sports in the first place. Consult with your local Rabbi. I’m not a Posak.”

    You made a valid point, the fact that she made a huge kiddush hashem can not be taken away from her, but a Jewish girl should not be sporting in public.

  4. Dear, “so proud #2”

    OF COURSE The holy shabbos is MUCH MORE important than playing ping-pong, and certainly there are many who don’t feel that an 11 year old jewish girl should be involved in this but …THAT IS NOT THE POINT!!!

    The fact is , she plays ping pong is apparently very good at it, and facing her own personal loss publicly took a stand and chose shabbos OVER everything else and for that we say : Great job Estee!!!

  5. estee its those people like you that can change the world and bring moshiach!!
    kol hakavod!
    and hatzlacha rabbah in all your other games and in all that you do!

  6. Queen Esther you honored the Queen Shabbos !
    You will be honored by the One and only…. The King.
    You and your parents are the WINNERS.

    Shabbos is coming.. we’re so happy.

    And for a laugh.
    You deserve 2 Matzoh Balls in your soup..One for ping and One for pong:)

  7. The best part of this story, unlike other similar cases in recent years, is that nobody complained, nobody insisted that they change the rules to accomodate her, nobody made a public spectacle and nobody sued (or threatened to do so). She wouldn’t play on shabbos and that was that.

    To me, THAT is the real kiddush HaShem.

  8. Torahis1, don’t underestimate the readership. There’s a long road between Soproud (2) and the type of comments you mention. I’ve seen people come through nicely when this kind of thing comes up.

  9. I am all for sports, but how is this “Kidush Hashem”? Kidush Hashem is not necessarily when we are popular, but when Hashem’s kovod is increased.

  10. I appreciate the ease of posting as much as anyone here, but do wonder if some sort of sign in is warranted, a sign in that would allow the poster to post in his/her name or sn, so that other people couldn’t spuriously use that name.