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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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. IslandAtheist

    Maybe they should pray over it?

    March 1, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  2. Lynette H

    The Sabbath is not just the Jewish Sabbath. It began at the end of creation week when God Himself set the 7th day apart for mankind to spend with Him. It began at evening (sunset), the end of the 6th day of creation and is for a 24 hour period ending at sunset on the 7th day. There were no Jewish people at that time. It was for all mankind and is still relevant for us today. There are other churches that observe the Sabbath rest as stated in Genesis including Seventh-day Adventists & Seventh Day Baptists. There are probably others. Seventh-day Adventists keep the day from sunset to sunset and cease from our labors as God did after creating our world. It is a blessed day and gives all time to worship our Creator and Savior and rest in Him. Try it sometime!

    March 1, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Jokesterer

      I just spoke with Jesus and he says you're wrong.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  3. Corinne M

    If the other schools won't play on Sunday, then this school should not be obligated to play on their Sabbath.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  4. justme

    if no one has pointed out to the writer yet, the law on the sabbath was given to the nation of israel in the books of exodus and leviticus not genesis. also when Jesus died he brought that law to it's end.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • anon1234567

      Jewish people do not recognize Jesus as the messiah and do not follow his teachings, therefore his "release" from the requirements of the Sabbath are irrelevant.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • BillT

      Jesus didn't change the week of creation at his death. No where in the Bible does it say the Sabbath day is to be changed. Jesus even in death rested on the Sabbath.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • justme

      when the creator rested he did not make it obligatory to humans to do also. in Exodus 31:16,17 he said"the sons of Israel must keep the Sabbath...etc. read on and you will see the reasons for this law and Jesus as a jew, obeyed the law but after he died the law was needed no more, see Col.2:13-16.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • BillT

      Why do we want to forget the only commandment that says "remember" in it? Jesus did away with the festivals foreshadowing his coming. He didn't do away with his creation of the universe, or the day of rest he made Holy.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • justme

      at Matt.22:36-49, Jesus gave the two commands we need to follow and i hope we can leave it at that since the whole law hangs on these two. i wish you peace.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • BillT

      So your saying Jesus did away with all of the 10 commandments? When Jesus was being cornered into giving a blasphemious answer her summerized the 10 into basically what they say. Love God and love one another. He didn't change the 10 commandments. He didn't change his mind on the ten commandments and neither should we.

      March 1, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • justme

      just so i can make myself clear. the law was perfect and there are many more than 10 laws. i'm sorry if i was misunderstood but the scriptures are clear that Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, Matt.5:17- 20 and that does not mean to just stop there. but obviously you are a lover of the scriptures and there is not enough time or space to discuss all of them here so i will thank you for the interchange and hope we can both agree to continue to follow Jesus' example and keep the peace.

      March 1, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  5. J.C.

    Stupid religion...on both sides of this one.
    This story will create pressure for a date change, and these kids will get to play. They will thank God, who probably doesn't follow high school sports. He's more into NASCAR.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Twm

      Defnitely should not move the game to accomodate any religion. They should disband all their sports teams because eventually games need to be played on Friday and Saturday's.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  6. Mr Johnson

    and we are concerned about this for what reason? they made their choice. The world does not revolve around one groups choices.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Jon

      Your're right the world will continue to revolve, but isn't it refreshing to once in awhile stick to their beliefs rather than taking the easy popular way out?

      March 1, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  7. Carolina

    It's amazing to see the character of that team, who is willing to give up a moment of "glory" because they want to uphold their values. I think that the board should appreciate that. We live in a crazy world. Good is no longer valued. Just to throw the thought out there... the Old and New Testament don't contradict each other. The 7th day Sabbath is still under observance. Jesus didn't work on Sabbath, he just taught the pharisees not to be so inhumane on Sabbath. 🙂

    March 1, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • BillT


      March 1, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  8. Jokesterer

    This is what Jesus would have wanted.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • gerry

      Because he had money on one of the other teams.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  9. helen thomas

    dem po' jews

    March 1, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Jonsie

      You're an idiot and probably have no beliefs!

      March 1, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  10. JD

    What I find interesting is that TAPPS, an organization of private AND PAROCHIAL schools, will not accomodate the Beren Academy's request, especially given their practice of not scheduling games on Sundays (the Christian Sabbath).

    March 1, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Twm

      Why change the games for one team? Sorry Religion has no business being in schools, athletics included. Just so happens that Friday and Saturday nights are great times for families to see the games. Unfortunately their religion sucks two of the best game days away from the schedule. See Sunday nights are rough for EVERYONE back to school and work the next day. This is why Friday and Saturdays are the best times. The TAPPS is thinking about the children as a whole not just one fanatic religious group.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  11. helen thomas







    March 1, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Diest

      helen: How sad your life must be. How bitter the life must be for those who have to put up with your deranged hatred on a daily basis. But, why do you choose to insult a great reporter like Helen Thomas by using her name as your tag?

      March 1, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Twm

      Wow you are definitely in need of a shrink.
      As for iran expect Obama to begin a military confrontation with them in June-Sept. to gain more independent patriot votes.
      We shall see how many liberal voters who were so anti war can stomach voting for this guy then.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  12. larry

    To quote Cheech and Chong, " Before I met the Lord, I was all messed up on drugs. Since I met the Lord, I'm all messed up on the Lord."

    March 1, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  13. steve

    Let Texas form its own country of intolerant bigots

    March 1, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  14. jason

    Who cares!!! Why bother post something like this. I could care less how dedicated they are to their religion

    March 1, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  15. Diest

    This story is simply business as usual, in an uncivilized area like Texas, home of Bush, Perry, and the last lynching in the entire country. The Relgio-bigots of the Evangelical "in your face" brainwashing go out of their way to make life as uncomfortable for anyone who is "different" from their narrow mindset. Use any excuse you wish, but these young people should be made aware of the fact that in most parts of the country we believe in the Freedom of Religion.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • Jonsie

      You know nothing about Texas, I am always amazed how you people critize us for living in a tunnel, when it is usually libs like you that have not tolerance for anyone or anything unless they agree with your dribble!

      March 1, 2012 at 9:12 am |
  16. momoya

    You know what I find surprising? The fact that this team has been playing on the sabbath until very recently when they were pressured by a few parents to stop. Also, the fact that this time signed on with a league that has such rules. Also, the fact that this team felt as if their personal, religious decisions should somehow trump their agreement to league rules.

    The board made the right decision; we don't want kids to get the idea that their religion allows them to break their ethical code for a time, change their mind at the end, and then demand that the league change their way of doing business to acco.mmodate them. That would be a stupid ruling.

    March 1, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Diest

      Mo: What is "surprising" is that you lived in a country which was created to overcome the intolerance for different faiths, and somehow seem to think it is okay to make rules for publicly funded sports events that violate that principle.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • steve

      Then play games on Sunday as well – moron

      March 1, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Corinne M

      If this is a Jewish orthodox school, I would find it hard to believe that they ever played on Saturday. Just because you say so, doesn't make it true.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  17. momoya

    You know what I find surprising? The fact that this team has been playing on the sabbath until very recently when they were pressured by a few parents to stop. Also, the fact that this time signed on with a league that has such rules. Also, the fact that this team felt as if their personal, religious decisions should somehow trump their agreement to league rules.

    The board made the right decision; we don't want kids to get the idea that their religion allows them to break their ethical code for a time, change their mind at the end, and then demand that the league change their way of doing business to accommodate them. That would be a stupid ruling.

    March 1, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  18. 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. duplicate

    March 1, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  19. Lion

    Times Change, people need to respect one another religious beliefs. It is interesting to note that both the Old Testament and The New Testament which is impart based upon the Old Testament state to rest on sabbath Exodus 23:12, 34:21. We are all children of G-d is it that difficult for us to respect one another. The bylaws were written in 1970's, we are today in the year 2012, it is time that the bylaws be amended to reflect present time. More important the bylaws at the time forbid playing games on Sunday in observance of Christian sabboth. Is it that difficult to make adjustments to accommodate playing the game earlier on Friday morning. You can't follow the New Testament and not respect The teachings of the Old Testament when in part they are both in the same. Man has really not evolved that much, is it so difficult to respect your brother.

    March 1, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • LarryW

      No we shouldn't need to accommodate peoples religions. Nothing could be more arbitrary that someones interpretation and differences of opinion, especially about religious issues. Basically, accommodating religious whims means the rest of us have to change so these others don't have to.

      Tough! No accommodation for anyone. They don't want to play on Friday, so they don't. That's okay. No observance for Sunday's, no observance for special holidays, etc.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  20. Mark K

    While this story is not really shocking coming from Texas...here is what I find a bit surprising:
    The TAPPS Board voted UNANIMOUSLY 9-0 to leave the schedule as it is.....REALLY??? Not even 1 member saw that this may be construed as unfair?? NOT 1?? I feel bad for these kids....they earned their spot.

    March 1, 2012 at 8:48 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
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.