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Rising Star Teeger shines in sport and religion

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When David Teeger, 18, accepted his award as the inaugural Rising Star of the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards, he dedicated it to the young soldiers fighting for Israel.

“Yes, I’ve been [given] this award, and yes, I’m now the Rising Star, but the true rising stars are the young soldiers in Israel,” Teeger said.

Teeger is head boy of King Edward VII School (KES), the captain of the Proteas Under-19 team, and the Central Gauteng Lions Under-19 A team. He described the feeling of being selected captain as a sense of “pride, passion, honour, but ultimately humility”.

In spite of these commitments, Teeger has stayed true to his Jewish faith, keeping Shabbat and kashrut throughout, even if it meant missing out on certain opportunities. In doing so, he hasn’t just remained grounded, he has gained the respect of his coaches and teammates, so much so that they have joined him in walking to matches on Shabbat.

“As a leader at KES, I’ve experienced a microcosm of what South Africa is capable of and the diversity, the love, the brotherhood is something special. But I think the Jewish community provides that too,” he said.

“Coming from a religious Jewish school and then being thrust into the biggest all-boys school in Johannesburg was quite a shift, and it wasn’t easy, but at all times, it was my Jewish faith that grounded me. So, to the Jewish community, thank you for being my home. My journey is truly about Jewish identity and whether it be standing out, missing cricket games, missing opportunities [in order] to observe my faith, those are crucial moments in my life.”

In July, Teeger played in the 50-over series in Bangladesh, his first international cricket tour. He captained the team in three of the five matches, and was the top run scorer in the series.

Teeger is extremely family-oriented, attributing much of his success to the support of his family. “It doesn’t matter how famous you are,” he said. “It matters how good a father, a husband, a brother, and a son you are.”

Just as South Africa comes together when the Springboks play, Teeger said, “Hopefully, I can inspire young, religious sportsmen to follow their dreams because, quite frankly, I didn’t think it was possible.”

Thinking about what’s happening in Israel right now, he quoted Kohelet, saying, “There’s a time to laugh, and a time to weep. A time to live, and a time to die.

“So, I’d like to dedicate this award to the South African family that married off one son while the other is still missing,” he said, referring to the family of Rabbi Doron Perez, whose son, Yonatan, who was injured on Saturday, 7 October, got married last week while his other son, Daniel, has been missing since that fateful day. “And I’d like to dedicate it to the state of Israel and every single soldier fighting so that we can live and thrive in the diaspora.”

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