The rabbi says he didn’t realize at first that what his son did was anything special.

Nine-year-old Yossi Lipskier—the oldest of six children of Rabbi Mendy and Tzipi Lipskier, who co-direct Chabad Lubavitch of Fountain Hills in Arizona—is a crack Little Leaguer and much-valued player, even though he never participates in games on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.

According to the rabbi, “his teammates—none of whom are Jews—have all accepted that he does things differently and respect him for it.”

At a recent game, however, as Yossi was about to take his turn at bat, an umpire asked the boy to remove his tzitzit, a small garment worn by Jewish men and boys in fulfillment of the biblical commandment to wear fringes on the corners of a rectangular piece of cloth.

“Faced with a choice between discarding his baseball uniform or his Jewish one, my son told us that he had a question in his mind for just a moment—just a flash,” tells the rabbi, “but then he knew what he needed to do. He respectfully walked off the diamond.

“This kind of gaon Yaakov [Jewish pride] comes from being a shaliach [emissary] of the Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory]. Yossi supplements his day-school education with programs via the Shluchim Online School and a warm Chassidic education at home. It is the way we raised him. It is how our parents raised us. It’s how the Rebbe raised us all.”

After Yossi stepped down from the plate, his teammates rallied around him, refusing to play in support of their friend.

Ultimately, the coaches and umpire put their heads together, deciding to allow Yossi to play—with his fringes flapping in the breeze—and the game continued.

Rabbi Lipskier points out that the peaceful resolution is typical. “As long as we are proud and comfortable with our Judaism,” he notes “people around us respect our principles as well. In fact, there was another game after that with the same umpire, and he did not say a word about Yossi’s tzitzit.