A 12 year old West Hempstead girl who bowed out of a National Table Tennis tournament last winter because it conflicted with Shabbos, took first place honors at this year’s Jewish Kids Got Talent competition, beating out eight other finalists in the annual contest.
Estee Ackerman, a seventh grader at the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, is ranked fourth in the United States in her age bracket and was three rounds away from the championship match when she discovered that her next match had been scheduled for 7:30 on a Friday night, more than three hours after Shabbos had started.
With 800 ping pong players involved in the Las Vegas tournament, rescheduling Estee’s match was impossible and the pre-teen understood that in a contest between Shabbos and ping pong, Shabbos was the clear winner.
“I sometimes play ping pong on Shabbos with my friends after lunch,” Estee told VIN News. “But to come to a match in my uniform? It wasn’t in the spirit of Shabbos and wasn’t what Hashem wanted.”
Estee was among nine finalists in the fourth annual Jewish Kids Got Talent, which offers boys and girls ages five through fourteen the ability to showcase their accomplishments in three different categories: Hand, where children display talent and creativity, Heart, giving youngsters the opportunity to showcase a mitzvah they have done, and Head, where contestants demonstrate their intellectual abilities.
Each of the finalists, chosen from over one hundred submissions, were invited to display their accomplishment at the annual dinner, which took place on December 9th at the Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn and winners in each category were chosen by live audience vote at the dinner.
Estee was chosen as both the overall winner in the competition and in the Heart category, with Israeli singer Eli Avidani and Warsaw resident Yossi Stambler taking the honors in the Hand and Head categories respectively. Each of the winners received a medal, a certificate, a Tehillim, $500 for themselves and $1,000 to be donated to the tzedaka of their choice.
Estee hopes to share her tzedaka prize with several different charities.
“I haven’t gotten the money yet but I plan on dividing it up between OHEL, Chai Lifeline and Hatzolah,” said Estee.
Looking ahead to the future, Estee hopes to one day be the first Orthodox Jewish olympian.
“I would love to bring home a medal for the United States in table tennis, something they have never done,” said Estee, who said she also has some interest in becoming a nutritionist. “I like it when people look at me and say ‘She didn’t play on Shabbos and yet she is still as good in sports as we are.’ I like to inspire people and show them just because we are Jewish doesn’t mean we can’t do things that other people can do.”