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. Joe

    Of course the christian nutjobs in texas wont move the games. christians are the most hateful and least accepting of all religions.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • John Q. P.

      You sure about that. The Muslims can play ball with the best of them.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  2. denny

    Christianity is the only true religion.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  3. Theygotjewed

    Rules are rules. That's what the school agreed to when they entered the association. Just because your rules are religious in nature, doesn't make them more important than the association's rules who don't practice your religion.

    However, if these rules were not originally agreed upon then I say adjust the schedule.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  4. John Q. P.

    Who gets hurt here? Of course the kids. A group of good kids have busted their butts for a goal and the opportunity of a lifetime. I mean once in a lifetime! And their religion says no to it based on a relatively nonsensical and outdated edict. TTAPS can't cater to all the religions nor should they. Religious dogma has to step aside here. Common sense.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • allyson1286

      That would be fine, but the organization is already accommodating Christians by not playing games on Sunday. If they wanted to be 100% fair with this then they should also not have that rule in the books. You can't make a policy to accommodate one religion and then completely ignore another. It should be either all or none.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  5. Fmg

    I stand by the team. I am a Seventh Day Adventist and also observe the Sabbath from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. I will always stand up for my God and my faith. Besides, Sabbath is such a delightful day of rest.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Marta Paglianni

      I agree with dad. My mom was a 7th Day Adventist as well and she installed in me wonderful Christians values which has guided me through college and beyond.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  6. Hell Atlantic

    separation of church and state. can't have it both ways.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Marta Paglianni

      Totally agree but exception can be made. These are kids and if they are obviously pretty good players to make it so far. So I said, give them a chance and change the schedule.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  7. Sergio D. Monterroso

    At first when I started reading this I felt it was unfair on the part of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS), but reading until the end, I have to agree with their decision. This school was advised, warned, put on notice about the rules and bylaws of the association when they requested to be a part of it, they accepted and agreed to them. Following their own rules (association rules) is just as important as following their own rules (Torah).

    March 1, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  8. Bill Rushby

    I am a conservative Christian. I feel that it is wrong not to accommodate the convictions of this school and its sports players. Shame on you, TAPPS!

    March 1, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  9. Zaza

    This is exactly why ALL organized religions are such a nonsense to me. All those rules were created by human beings, not any kind of higher power, to better control their peers... People who make a choice to adhere to a certain religion, choose to accept all rules that go with it. So don't ask the others to cater to your chosen needs... There are things way more important than that in life...

    March 1, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • John Stevens

      Is this really news worthy? Who give two Craps about what this Jew school is up to???? really.... come one people and the F'ing Jew based media- report on something that matters.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  10. jpw2010

    This is why people of other cultures get annoyed with the Jews; the Jews obsessive compulsiveness about following their stupid rituals.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • BR

      Really? Sounds like you have way bigger problems with diversity than you allude to in your comment.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Billy Bob Cletus Feckwood, III

      Yeah. Those rituals are silly. On the other hand drinking wine and pretending its blood and eating wafers and pretending they are flesh is not silly at all.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • mark

      Yeah, why don't they hyprocritically pick and choose what's important like the Christians do?!?!!?

      March 1, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • thebigsky

      Seems like a double standard by TAPPS they won't play on Sunday because____? I am thinking they should accomodate and maybe make the game have a 4 PM start. done, by sundown.
      What message of religious tolerance would be sent then?

      March 1, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Marta Paglianni

      Sometime that is the case but in this moment it could had been anybody from any other religion. Kids should be able to play specially if they are that good and day of play could be alter. What is the big deal with that

      March 1, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  11. erich2112x

    The appeal to reschedule the game to Friday morning was unanimously voted down by the league's nine-member board. For real? This issue could have easily been resolved. These 9 board members just ruined the entire playoff series because they couldn't reschedule a game a few hours. Ha!

    March 1, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  12. shemesh

    Orthodoxy is not a SECT. Judaism allows for discussion and various levels of observance. If the Shabbat is the Shabbat, Saturday or Sunday should we not respect each other enough to take the day off?

    March 1, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  13. jingo

    Who cares. Practice your religion and give up basketball. Don't make the rest of us cater to your imaginary gods. Already fed up with the free time off on all these christian holidays. Everyone needs to stop finding excuses for days off.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Mike

      Right you are. And we wonder why our economy is going down the drain.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • esm

      wow, you're the first person I have ever heard of complaining about being off work for a holiday. I welcome the time off to enjoy life and spend time with family and friends.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • TrueReality

      Sure, let's take away a few more days off, when Americans already have less than half the average time off per year than any other First World country, and on average suffer far more from overwork and stress-related health issues. Which holidays are you talking about? Christmas? That's become so secular it's not really even a religious holiday anymore; it's just about shopping and Santa. Thanksgiving? That never was too religious, and now it's all food, family, and football. What other Christian holidays are there that people get off work for?

      March 1, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  14. John Q. P.

    God save us from the religions.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  15. neuroperson

    Right, they dont mind playing on the "Jewish" Sabbath (i.e. the one in Old Testament) but wouldnt dare play on Sunday, the day the Romans decided to "make:" the Sabbath because that was the day all the Pagans were already worshipping their various Sun Gods. Whatever..

    March 1, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • BR

      You're right. This is why I believe that people are no further along in considerate treatment of each other than the Middle Ages. This Christian group sounds like they were happy to find a way to not play the Jewish group.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  16. rh

    Good. Our family celebrates Eastern Orthodox holidays, and continually there are events scheduled on Easter (when it isn't coincidentally the same as Catholic Easter) and Christmas (1/7).

    They should ban any kind of acknowledgment of religious holidays, including Christmas, or make sure there are NO school or government events for EVERY religion. They could easily get a list from the top ten religions by population and consolidate holidays. All Orthodox Christians have the same important days for example, it wouldn't kill anyone to avoid those days.

    On the other hand, I didn't think Orthodox Jews went for sports. Isn't that cavorting with Gentiles?

    March 1, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • BR

      Cavorting with Gentiles? Where did you get such an idea that Jews can't play in sports because they play against Gentiles? Ever hear of Israel being in the Olympics? Maybe this would be a good subject to research.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Marta Paglianni

      What an ignorant comment. Did you ever heard the greatest swimmer Mark Spitz, before drugs and high tech swim suit that make you go faster, and the brilliant pitcher Sandy Koufax to name a few. How about Tamir Goodman, Jewish Michael Jordan, a kid from Baltimore who was one of the best in the nation a few yrs ago.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  17. Why

    It would send a strong message of faith if all other teams would refuse to play without being rescheduled.

    I don't know which is worse. The league which won't reschedule or the team that jumps at the opportunity to capitalize on someone else's faith.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  18. Really

    You know CNN why did you report this story. all the things that you say the team is getting out clinging to their faith and not league rules could be true but why should I care? are you demonstrating to me the different levels and colors zealots come in and how they all what the rest of us to pat them on the head and say how wonderful they are?

    March 1, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Bob, Virginia

      Because this is a RELIGION blog. DUH

      March 1, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • No religion

      This is a blogger's opinion, not a news story pulished by a journalist.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Just Say'in

      @ Bob, Virginia
      It is the BELIEF blog. Do you need me to link you the difference in definition between religion and belief?

      March 1, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  19. yourbeneathme

    I didn't know Matzo balls bounced.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  20. fmjk

    This would be a pretty unremarkable story if it wasn't for the fact that the organization already refuses to play on the Christian sabbath. Given the fact that the group already accomodates religion in a significant way, it has made the wrong decision to be so inflexible for the Jewish team. How hard is it, really, to move the game up a few hours on Friday? Or play it on Sunday?? (Oh, that's right ... can't do THAT. It might impose on the Sabbath.... Hmmmmm.)

    March 1, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • BR

      Mind-blowingly ironic, isn't it?

      March 1, 2012 at 9:59 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.