Jewish Boxer, Undefeated, Moves on To Title of Rabbi

November 15, 2009

( The would-be-rabbi waited until Shabbat was over before heading to the ring to knock out opponent Daniel Santos and claiming the WBA super welterweight title. Yuri Foreman, who remains undefeated, is the first Israeli citizen to earn the title and the first Jewish boxer since 1978. And by all accounts, he is probably the only rabbi-in-training to step in the ring and step out with this triumph.

Foreman, 29, got his boxing start in Belarus, continuing his training in Israel where he immigrated as a child. When he realized that his career couldn’t get very far there, he moved to New York. Here he discovered his true strength, both as an athlete and as a Jew. Foreman and his wife were introduced to Rabbi DovBer Pinson who invited them for Shabbat meals and initiated a regular study regimen with the young boxer. Three years ago, Foreman started the intellectually rigorous program to become a fully-ordained Orthodox rabbi.

Though he entered the Las Vegas ring the underdog, Foreman completed the 12th round as victor. He jumped for joy before a waving Israeli flag, expressing his pride at this success on his country’s behalf. The world champion will continue on to other fights, between extended stints in the study hall as he prepares for another challenge: the ring of the rabbinate.   

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