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Jewish school to give up shot at state championship to observe Sabbath
February 29th, 2012
03:50 PM ET

Jewish school to give up shot at state championship to observe Sabbath

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - With a shot at high school state championship glory on the line, a Jewish basketball team in Texas is opting for the sidelines, aiming for something a little higher.

The Robert M. Beren Academy in Houston will forfeit its semifinal playoff spot in the Class 2A basketball championships this weekend because the game falls on a Friday night, the start of the Jewish Sabbath.

The private Orthodox Jewish school observes the weekly Jewish day of rest, called Shabbat, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

"You get put in adversity and the way you handle things says a lot about your character. So this is an opportunity to show our character," Chris Cole, coach of the Beren Stars, told CNN Houston affiliate KPRC.

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The playoffs for the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) are set for this weekend. Beren Academy's semifinal game and the championship game are both scheduled during the Sabbath observance.

"If we give up this opportunity for our religion it just shows how much we deeply care for it," Isaac Buchine, a player on the Beren Stars, told KPRC.

"We are hopeful that the TAPPS league will move the games a few hours so that we can compete," the school said in a statement posted on its website.

"This is a testament to our school and to Coach Cole for his support and dedication, that, independent of the desire to compete, is the desire to uphold our Jewish values,” the statement continued. “We are proud of who we are, and have the courage to act accordingly."

By Wednesday, more than 5,000 people had signed an online petition, supported by the school, to move the Beren Stars’ semifinal game to Friday morning.

Over the weekend, school officials appealed to the league to find another time for the game, but the league said in a statement Wednesday the appeal was unanimously voted down by the league's nine-member board.

Cole is holding out hope that the TAPPS board will change its mind and reschedule the Stars’ games.

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The Jewish observance of the Sabbath comes from the book of Genesis. In the week-long creation story, God creates the world, and all that is in it, in six days. After seeing that it is "very good," God rests on the seventh day.

How Jews practice that rest varies, but in Orthodox sects, it often means no working, driving or cooking. Many observant Jews also attend religious services on Shabbat.

Observance of the Sabbath can pose a challenge for observant Jews living in a culture on a different timetable.

Yuri Foreman , a champion boxer and rabbi in training, postponed a major fight in 2010 because it fell on a Saturday night. He took the ring once the sun went down.

U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, has been known to walk miles to his Washington home when votes on the Senate floor run into Friday night.

Lieberman wrote a book about Shabbat and told CNN's Belief Blog last year the stringent rules around the observation serve an important part in preservation of the Jewish faith.

Founded in the late 1970s, the TAPPS league is made up of 220 schools. In a statement posted on its website by the TAPPS executive board, the league said at the time of its organization, no member schools observed the Sabbath on Saturday. At the same time, the bylaws forbid games on Sunday, a nod to Christian Sabbath observance.

The league statement also said Beren Academy first met with league officials in June 2009 to discuss joining TAPPS.

"At that time, the Board pointed out that TAPPS schedules its team sports championship on Fridays and Saturdays, which would conflict with Beren’s observation of their Sabbath,” the statement said. “The Board pointed out that the posted schedule for the state tournament would be followed and no changes made, unless weather related or similar conditions existed."

The league also pointed out another rule in its bylaws stipulating that if a team cannot follow the playoff schedule, it is up to the school to remove itself from the playoffs.

Our Lady of the Hills School in Kerrville, Texas, will take Beren Academy's spot in the playoffs Friday night, the league said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Judaism • Texas

soundoff (946 Responses)
  1. Cassandra Chu

    ... there is a certain group, a particular religio-ethnicity who will do nearly ANYTHING to get into the news... and CNN is happy to call it news and to publish it...

    March 1, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • sbp

      You mean Azzh0les? Yep, YOU did manage to get into the news.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  2. real american

    GO TO YOUTUBE AND TYPE IN : 1.THE USSLIBERTY AND 2. ALAN SABROSKY ...THEN TELL ME IF YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT THIS STORY!

    911 WAS AN ISRAELI MOSSAD INSIDE JOB -WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!

    NO MORE WARS FOR ISRAEL!!

    WHY IS PRESIDENT OBAMA GOING TO AN ISRAELI AIPAC CONVENTION NEXT WEEK? ALL THE ISRAELI LOBBY WANTS IS A WAR WITH IRAN – WHY IS OUR PRESIDENT GOING TO THE AIPACE CONVENTION FOR ANOTHER ISRAELI WAR?

    IRAN IS NO THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES – BUT ZIONISM IS!

    AMERICANS DO NOT WANT WAR!! NO MORE BLOOD FOR ISRAEL!!!

    March 1, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Cassandra Chu

      yes, it's obvious to anyone who can think for him/herself that 9-11 WAS an inside job. but what are you going to do about it?

      March 1, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  3. real american

    GOOGLE: THE USSLIBERTY AND ALAN SABROSKY ...THEN TELL ME IF YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT THIS STORY!

    911 WAS AN ISRAELI MOSSAD INSIDE JOB -WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!

    NO MORE WARS FOR ISRAEL!!

    WHY IS PRESIDENT OBAMA GOING TO AN ISRAELI AIPAC CONVENTION NEXT WEEK? ALL THE ISRAELI LOBBY WANTS IS A WAR WITH IRAN – WHY IS OUR PRESIDENT GOING TO THE AIPACE CONVENTION FOR ANOTHER ISRAELI WAR?

    IRAN IS NO THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES – BUT ZIONISM IS!

    AMERICANS DO NOT WANT WAR!! NO MORE BLOOD FOR ISRAEL!!!

    March 1, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  4. real american

    GOOGLE: THE USSLIBERTY AND ALAN SABROSKY ...THEN TELL ME IF YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT THIS STORY!

    911 WAS AN ISRAELI MOSSAD INSIDE JOB -WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!

    NO MORE WARS FOR ISRAEL!!

    WAS IS PRESIDENT OBAMA GOING TO AN AIPAC CONVENTION NEXT WEEK? ALL THE ISRAELI LOBBY WANTS IS A WAR WITH IRAN- WHY IS OUR PRESIDENT GOING TO THE AIPACE CONVENTION?

    AMERICANS DO NOT WANT WAR!! NO MORE BLOOD FOR ISRAEL!!!

    March 1, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  5. Tutuvabene

    The school knew the conditions when the signed the agreement to join the league. Presumably, the school was prepared to face the possibility that it would make the playoffs and knew ahead of time what course of action to take. It would have been appropriate for the school to state that there would be no playoff participation because of the Sabath restriction when it first joined the conference to avoid this brohaha now, but that was not done. That said, it appears to be persons and groups outside of the school who are making an issue out of this.

    March 1, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • OHG

      Yes the school knew about the rule but the rule already says no games on Sunday... Why??? Well we all know why!

      March 1, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Keros

      EXACTLY. They knew what they were getting into when they signed up to join the league...i.e. if they actually read the agreement.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  6. andrew nipon

    a disgraceful display of fair play and leadership by the TAPPS directors. unless there are particulars unknown, it can be perceived as prejudice. a questionable decision by the league.

    March 1, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  7. real american

    Oh those poor jews! -enter sarcasm here they need to take off their skullcaps if they want to play serious b-ball

    March 1, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  8. Ken from FL

    The article makes it sound as if the school had a choice: it "opted out." BS. The problem was the state asscoiation was unyielding, refusing to accommodate the school's profound religious belief. I'm not Jewish, but this just isn't right. Very poorly written lead for this article.

    March 1, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  9. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 1, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  10. HerbH

    TAPPs changed this rule before.

    They should change it again.

    March 1, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  11. John

    What would be really outstanding is if Our Lady of the Hills also chose to forfeit in solidarity with Beren Academy.

    March 1, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • sandy

      I don't know you, but I like you:) That would be awesome!

      March 1, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  12. Jacob Tysz

    Wow. So the league will move a game for weather, but not for God...oh wait, it's the "wrong" God, so no go.

    March 1, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • MJ Taylor

      Actually, that's not true as there is generally ample proof that bad weather exists. I don't leave the house on the 3rd Friday of the month that's even numbered, you going to accommodate my views too? You want to make religion more than a thematic guide for life, you run the risk of having to make these sorts of decisions.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • real american

      GOOGLE: THE USSLIBERTY AND ALAN SABROSKY ...THEN TELL ME IF YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT THIS STORY!

      911 WAS AN ISRAELI MOSSAD INSIDE JOB -WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!

      NO MORE WARS FOR ISRAEL!!

      WAS IS PRESIDENT OBAMA GOING TO AN AIPAC CONVENTION NEXT WEEK? ALL THE ISRAELI LOBBY WANTS IS A WAR WITH IRAN- WHY IS OUR PRESIDENT GOING TO THE AIPACE CONVENTION?

      AMERICANS DO NOT WANT WAR!! NO MORE BLOOD FOR ISRAEL!!!

      March 1, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • dave

      Actually, it is the same God - Remember Jesus was an observant Jew who obeyed the Sabbath law

      Texans are just, well it is not nice to say. Remember the original Texans stole land from Mexico so they could have a place for slavery

      March 1, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  13. CJH

    Good for them. Isn't it ironic, though, that these playoffs are part of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. One would think that a conference of private and parochial schools would be a little more sensitive to the member schools' religious tenets.

    March 1, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  14. Jane

    The team earned their playoff spot. it shouldn't be that difficult fot the league to start the game in the afternoon so that it could be completed by sundown. The League is being inflexible.

    March 1, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  15. TownC

    Good for them! There are more important things than sport. These students are learning a valuable lesson; a lesson that principle is more important than passion.

    March 1, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  16. Joyce Fields

    Yasher Koach! In the merit of your actions, we should all intensify our prayers that G-D should protect and bless HIS land of Eretz Yisrael! Happy Purim!

    March 1, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  17. mrmew55

    I guess freedom of religion only applies to those poor "persecuted" Catholics – I hope God has a "special" place for all of those responsible for this travesty, as well as those who support it!

    March 1, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • CSMinDC

      No, mrmew55. It's now freedom FROM religion.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  18. Stan Levenson

    This is what you call "HOME OF THE BRAVE, LAND OF THE FREE, Texas is the most racist state in the country, Look at their history of hatred 1- writing slurs of people of color on rocks, putting people to death in their jails, the only chance you have living in that sate is if you are white a pure christian . all those boards members have to be GOP-Tea Baggers Hey Texas this is the 21st century stop living in the past you lost the war North verses South

    March 1, 2012 at 7:42 am |
  19. Blakbeatle

    Shabbat Shalom to all those at the Robert M. Beren Academy! You will be blessed.

    March 1, 2012 at 7:41 am |
  20. Paul

    There is a long history of famous major league baseball players who missed important games since they chose to observe the Sabbath and not play. This team of 9 boys are now on the same level as those baseball superheroes and should be applauded.

    Unfortunately, most of America is not familiar with the "rules" dictated by the Jewish religion and through their lack of understanding will not pressure the officials to move the time of the game. You bet if this was Christmas, you would hear a public outcry!! Congratulations to the team for holding to their beliefs.

    March 1, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Atheist Arron

      They shouldn't be applauded and no they are not on the same level as the baseball "superheroes." By the way athletes are not superheroes in case you were wondering. NBA players play games every Christmas I don't hear a public outcry to move the date. So that just destroyed your little analogy. You are not special just because you are religious. You are made from the same compost heap as everyone else. Nobody should have to rearrange pre-scheduled events that they knew about ahead of time just to coddle those who are willingly choosing not to participate. These rules of the Jewish religion are dictated you say. So why should everyone else have to bow down to the rules handed down by your dictator?

      March 1, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • Rob Cottrell

      @Atheist Arron: You're right that nobody else should "have to bow down" to the rules of someone else's religion. But this isn't about what they HAVE to do... it's about what they should CHOOSE to do. Seriously, what does it hurt to move one game?

      In my opinion, the board should have simply asked the other team's coach if THEY were willing to move the game. If so, then move it. If not, then leave it where it is.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • jjb1313

      @ Atheist Arron – here is the thing... athiests and such, outcry publicly when they feel that they are being forced to adhere to some religious standard or have to witness some religious practice. but you dont. it is ok. the real funny thing is that because individuals as yourself dont have religion in your lives you feel the need that no one else does either. so it seems rather ironic that you force absence of religion on the rest of us to but yet complain if anyone even mentions religion in your company. the state has no right to force anyone to a state run religion but not the right to keep anyone from the religion of their choosing, and interestingly neither do athiests...

      March 1, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Tom

      Arron is right. There are some iron age laws that should remain in the iron age. I'm sure the creator of the universe would not be bothered by a few of teenagers playing a basketball game on a Friday night. I am a non-believer, however, I do respect those who practice their religion in the privacy of their own homes instead of making it a public spectacle. Ultimately the team's decision to not play isn't serving "God" It is serving themselves. They will now be applauded by their peers as the most faithful, the most devout, the most righteous. Should we consider that a sacrifice or a sweet deal.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • Atheist Arron

      jjb1313 – Point to my response where I said anything remotely involving my outcry for being forced to adhere to some religious standard. A rather unlettered response as you went on a tirade about state run religion and the dichotomy of governance therein. A public outcry is more a gaggle of people in stark protest for something. When sprinkles of atheists merely remind the pew of the fact that we are not one nation under god let alone any god, surely the response from the religious pulpit is the true outcry. You do understand that concept right? That we are not in fact ONE nation under god. The “one” suggests unification and accordance in belief of a god which is far from the truth of the world let alone this nation. So atheists don't force absence of religion only the absence of religion as it pertains to the coherence of the rule of law, ie the state. But I digress.

      If you have every played organized sports you know these schedules are handed out in advance. You know exactly when the games are and the dates. So at the last minute to try to get the rules to change and use the old adage of "religious persecution" if conformity to your will is not met does not hold merit as sport is not a subset of religion and shouldn't be governed by it. Sport is secular in both origin and practice. You want religion in every facet of life? Great. Just don’t make the assumption that everyone else has to publicly adhere to that perspective as well less they be lambasted by the mob for something so trite as this

      March 1, 2012 at 10:25 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.