COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Jewish baseball players from all over the country have come to Ohio for the 14th annual Columbus Baseball Invitational. The 3-day event is the country’s largest baseball tournament for Jewish Day schools.
This year’s tournament has 13 teams featuring more than 280 players from all over the country, with some teams coming from as far as California and Florida.
All those athletes have one thing in common – they attend an Orthodox Jewish school and aren’t able to participate in post-season tournaments as a result.
“The games end up on Shabbos which is our Sabbath,” said Joshua Kupitzky, an Ida Crown Jewish Academy player. “Because we aren’t able to play in that, we will automatically forfeit.”
That all changed 14 years ago when the Columbus Torah Academy came up with an idea.
“We had a team and the kids wanted to continue playing, but we couldn’t find one, so we had to create a tournament for ourselves,” said Rabbi Avrohom Drandoff the head of Columbus Torah Academy.
Hence, the Columbus Baseball Invitational, a tournament for Orthodox Jewish baseball teams.
“This tournament gives us something to look forward to every year and really prepare for and hopefully win,” said Kupitzky, whose team came from Chicago to play this year. “It’s upsetting but at the same time, it’s also our faith that you can’t compromise on those kinds of things. So that’s why this tournament is amazing because we don’t have to compromise on anything while still playing baseball at a high level.”
It’s a sentiment shared by other players in the tournament.
“It’s just all to see the unity of Jewish people here, it’s just really amazing to bond over something that we love so much,” Yaacov Peltz, a Columbus Torah Academy player, said.
And as Dandroff says, that’s what it’s all about.
“We want our kids to play at the highest level, compete against each other, and really create relationships and friendships as well,” Dandroff said. “We may be competitors on the field but we are all brothers and sisters off the field. That’s the beauty of sports.”
The tournament runs until Tuesday, which is when the champion will be named. Organizers said the goal is to continue growing the event every year.