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. 5thApe

    Religion: A virus of the mind.

    March 1, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  2. reggolus


    "And here I thought that religious bigotry was a dead issue..."

    What drugs are you into?

    March 1, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  3. Larry

    They should know this scheduling conflict when they signed upt o be in the league. I am all for religious values. Moving a game would mean moving several other games and several other school's schedules. I am sorry, but I am all for not moving this. They knew this was a possibility if they got this far into the season and they still opted to be a part of this league.

    March 1, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • Charlie Babbitt

      As the article clearly states, they did know. I understand the school and player's position, but have to side with the league. The rules were clearly stated at the beginning. I feel for the players, but there is no evidence I can see that the league has discriminated against them. In a mixed race/religion society, we must compromise (definition – a result neither party is happy with).

      March 1, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • TommyTT

      The league's bylaws specifically prohibit games on Sunday because it is the Sabbath. Oh, wait, it's only the Sabbath for those Christians who think they are the center of the universe. What I learned many years ago was that when you move into a "restricted" neighborhood the right thing to do isn't to say, "You knew about the restrictions." The right thing to do is realize that the restrictions are one-sided and selfish, and adjust them.

      March 1, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  4. Sabapete

    I wonder if the Our Lady of the Hills School will show some religious tolerance and support by refusing to play in their place. Probably not. Religious schools, especially in Texas are not noted for their religious tolerance.

    March 1, 2012 at 7:11 am |
  5. skullnrose

    I think it should be decided between the 2 schools...the other school is willing to change the date/time,,,this TAPPS board is a bunch of predjudiced morons....

    March 1, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • Charlie Babbitt

      You know nothing about the individuals on this board, or their decision-making process. Congratulations to jumping to such an uninformed position.

      March 1, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  6. reggolus

    Their team, the Crucifiers, went 8-2 this season...not bad for such a small program. They killed Christ academy.

    March 1, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • tom4650

      And here I thought that religious bigotry was a dead issue.........oh stupid me. Give these young people and the administration of the school credit for teaching these kids a set of values to live by. TAPPS is just an organization with rules it chooses to follow. Berens Academy has said all along they do not argue the decision by TAPPS. It is the media who has chosen to blow this up into something it is not.

      March 1, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • TheWiz71

      Just flagged you, I'm proud to say. However, I will remind you that such slander is not just hateful, it's bad history. The Jewish people never crucified ANYBODY, not Jesus, not anyone else. The Romans did. Period. Jesus was crucified under orders from Pontius Pilate – the Roman governor of Judea, and his orders were carried out by Roman soldiers. The charge nailed above his head implies sedition as being the offense. THerefore, while the Jews were complicit in Jesus' death by handing him over to the Romans, the Gentile world was equally culpable. Besides, if you are a Christian you would know that his death was necessary for our salvation. So, either stop trolling, or, if your sentiment is frighteningly genuine, stop hating.

      March 1, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • TheWiz71

      Hey Moderator – why has this comment by reggolus not been removed?

      March 1, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  7. David

    Yeah, more kids will miss a great opportunity because of a fictional dictator in the sky ...

    March 1, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • Rosemary

      No, what these kids have now is an opportunity to show their character. Two years from now, no one will know or care who won what at this tournament, but these kids will all know that they have the moral fiber to stand up for their beliefs. What do you believe in, and what would you be willing to give up for those beliefs?

      March 1, 2012 at 7:39 am |
  8. N


    March 1, 2012 at 6:38 am |
  9. Paul

    Ah yes – texas is part of the Bible Belt – the Christain Bible. I'm staying in Ohio, with my fellow Christians.

    March 1, 2012 at 6:36 am |
  10. Katie

    I think what they did is fine. However, the season will go on without them. The rest of the world isn't going to stop, nor should it, while they're observing their religious holidays.

    March 1, 2012 at 6:21 am |
    • TommyTT

      And yet I, as a Jew, have to stop on Christmas. What goes around should come around.

      March 1, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Ray

      Have to stop what? Just go out and get Chinese with your family like you usually do.

      March 1, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  11. Rudedog

    I am glad Jessus said it was ok to do miracles and look for lost sheep on the sabbath, I would be fired for observing that day

    March 1, 2012 at 6:17 am |
  12. Magdalen

    While I applaud the beren academy's commitment to their faith, as noted in the above article ,they knowingly signed on. On the other hand where is the board's stance on compromise when things do change? It will be interesting to see how Our Lady of the Hills responds, will they stand in solidarity or go with the flow? To the first poster, if you took the time to write utter rubbish regarding separation of state, maybe you can take the time to learn what the founding fathers set it up for, it certainly wasn't for your interpretation of it.

    March 1, 2012 at 6:10 am |
  13. Mark

    As for Cosmicsnoop, thanks for imposing YOUR beliefs on everyone else. For the Beren Stars, stick to your guns...or your Torahs as the case may be. As for TAPPS, maybe you should reschedule your tournament for Easter Sunday and watch the uproar. Texas apparently is a state of big guns, big crosses, and big intolerance. Yes, the Beren Stars representative should have had faith in their players and not joined TAPPS if it had been pre-"ordained" (sorry, couldn't resist) that the tournament would be on a Saturday.

    March 1, 2012 at 6:02 am |
    • Gary

      Why not reschedule the game for Sunday ?

      March 1, 2012 at 6:10 am |
  14. maxbianco

    heres a clue...
    "The Jewish observance of the Sabbath comes from the book of Genesis" from the first two chapters actually; long before jews even existed. the truth is, if you call yourself "Christian", you should be observing the original 7TH day Sabbath. on Saturday

    March 1, 2012 at 5:52 am |
    • TheWiz71

      Except for the Christian, the new Sabbath is Sunday, as that is, according to the gospels, the day of Jesus' Resurrection. That is why it is the holiest day of the week for us, not Saturday.

      March 1, 2012 at 7:38 am |
  15. cosmicsnoop

    Whatever. This is a religious school and we have separation of church and state. It would be wrong to change the schedule based on their beliefs, which no other school has a problem with. To have the game during the day would be the most hypocritical thing to do. These kids have school then and classes to go to. Are they saying that this game is important enough to miss classes for, but not important enough to miss because of some religious view held only by them from some book of mythology? Get over yourselves and your slavery to these outdated beliefs.

    March 1, 2012 at 5:47 am |
    • Gr8fulMed

      Except that the league bylaws specifically disallow games on Sunday because it is the Christian sabbath. No separation of church and state problem with that?? Shame, shame.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:59 am |
    • Velv

      Read the article, not just the headline: the league is formed of schools that are part of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. They're all private or religious schools. Seperation of church and state does not apply.

      March 1, 2012 at 6:06 am |
    • Heffi

      Another example from the F U generation. "If you give hoot about the man with the bible in his hand, just get out the way, let the gentleman do his thing. Repect yourself."

      March 1, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  16. drew

    i just know that I wouldn't play a game on one of my holidays either... They really should push the games back

    March 1, 2012 at 5:27 am |
  17. drew

    WoW They should post pone the game... This isn't fair!

    March 1, 2012 at 5:26 am |
  18. Tutuvabene

    The school was informed by the league that the playoffs would be conducted on the days in question and apparently accepted the condition, knowing the playoff dates would violate the Sabbath. Who is the real bad guy here? It would appear to be the representative of the school who signed the agreement to join the league. Did he or she think that if the school actually made the playoffs the dates would be changed to suit the school. If so, that person did the school no service.

    March 1, 2012 at 5:25 am |
  19. Tutuvabene

    Sounds like some Jews need to be on the TAPPS board.

    March 1, 2012 at 5:13 am |
  20. Diest

    In civilized States , like New York, all athletic contests take into account Religious Holidays and do not force young people to make such a choice. Those of us who do not share a particular belief system should be respectful of others who have such a value in their lives. This would, once again, seem to be a ploy of "In Your Face" Evangelicals forcing their belief into public schools, with a predictable toxic outcome.

    March 1, 2012 at 4:49 am |
    • Velv

      First, its a private school league, not public. And as a New Yorker, you make us sound like p-tzes refering to another state that way. You should visit Texas, its a lot of fun. And the best food in the US (unless your vegetarian...).

      Also, New York is way more diverse, and needs to take into account other religous holidays (although, they really only take into account jewish, christian and muslim holidays. There's other large religions out there...). I'm guessing a Jewish team hasn't made the playoffs very often in that league, where the games have happened to fall on the sabbath. Or maybe the school just joined the league. Don't be so quick to judge.

      Obviously the board made a mistake not moving the game, but thats 9 people (and I doubt it was actually unanimous), not the whole state.

      March 1, 2012 at 6:14 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.