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. BR

    Just Say'in: Wouldn't you be surprised to know I'm also an Atheist? Unlike you, I have no interest in taking away God from those who believe. Their belief does not affect me one bit, and I do not care. I do not have to take god away from others to justify my Atheism. Why do you?

    March 1, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Danman

      Thank you for sanity. Be secular, why care? Does not matter what stories others like....

      March 1, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Just Say'in

      In what comment did I suggest taking away ‘god’ from anyone?

      For the record Atheism needs no justification. Assuming you know the definition I’m surprised you’d even ask such a question.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  2. Nancy M. B.

    They were told the rules in the very beginning. Get over it.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  3. Naija

    Let me guess,all Jewish own business or Investments will not accepts profits on Saturday,and Muslims also wants Friday off to Pray,Devil worshipers I am sure have a special day,Monday is not good for me because it's against my religion,which I observe on Sunday but makes me tired on Monday.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  4. Danman

    I think it's appropriate that the catholics that changed the sabbath will get to play instead "our lady of" yadda yadda... LMAO!

    March 1, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • TheWiz71

      See my reply reply below – Christian worship on Sunday goes back to apostolic times, and is reflected in the gospels, as well as in Acts. Once again, not a Roman invention.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  5. susanbellnc

    I definitely respect the school's decision, but I think TAPPS needs to look at things again. If they make an exception for Christian schools, they should make one for Jewish schools as well.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  6. BR

    LuvUamerica: C'mon. You and your intolerant friends should grow up. What do you gain by being so inflexible? How's that workin' for ya'?

    March 1, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  7. Circus

    And the point is.....?
    Yes, it is a problem for those that don't assimilate into our society as we're told in school and media that immigrant groups are suppose to do.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Shira

      What on earth are you talking about? Assimilate? Immigrants?

      March 1, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  8. Danman

    First of all, I am not a Jew. I study and worship what I think is right. That said, I would rather keep my 1000 year old tradition than lose it to a GAME invented in the last 100 or so years... Kudos!
    Jews are the only group that keep the true Sabbath and never forget when it is or change it. I will not bow to the Roman change to the religious calendar or the pope's "authority", like he can change God's holy day?! LMAO!
    Friday night through Saturday is the original Sabbath as kept in the old testament by the people of Israel.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Aloha

      Amen! The papacy (the little horn and the beast of revelation who thought to change times an laws) thinks they are God! That is why they change things. Of course God will surely not allow this and they will either realize their faults or perish.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • TheWiz71

      If you are a Christian, you will know that it was not "the pope", or the Roman church that changed the day of worship for Christians from Saturday to Sunday. You will know from the NT gospels that Sunday (the first day of the week) is the day of the Resurrection of Jesus, and that from the following week on, from the apostolic era on down, Christians gathered on that day to celebrate what is the ultimate moment of our history. So, once again, not a Roman, or papal invention (the authority of the Bishop of Rome is actually a relatively recent invention, only widely recognized in Europe for less than 1500 years – and never recognize in Eastern Orthodoxy – for whom, I might add, Sunday is also the day of worship. So, learn some history.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • BR

      First of all, I am Jewish, and I can tell you one of the tenets of Judaism is practicing tolerance. I can assure you that if the Jewish team was asked to reschedule a Sunday game, they would do it.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • TheWiz71

      @Aloha – see my reply. And, btw, where do you tin-foil hat brigade types get this stuff. BTW, I am not a RC, not do I believe in the authority of the Bishop of Rome beyond his own diocese, but to believe that papal action has anything at all to do with Sunday being the Christian day of worship is gravely mistaken.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Aloha

      Well wiz,

      Jesus, a practicing Jew said "I come not to destroy the law but fulfill it." He followed everyone of God's laws and since He didn't abolish them doesn't that mean they're still in practice? There is absolutely no biblical evidence for worship on Sunday. You are followin tradition rather than the holy book. Either the Savior was telling the truth or He was lying. Make your decision but know you have been warned of your sins.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • ImSoSpecial

      That great stand by your 1000 yr beliefs, sadly that doesn't get the kids playing in the finals. Maybe one day they will see how ignorant they are being to there own children. If the league interferes with you beliefs, guess what? DONT JOIN THE LEAGUE! Then you have 7 days of sabbath and not have to worry about the oppressive youth bittyball league trying to shatter your precious morals.

      March 1, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  9. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 1, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Jesus

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs. ....

      March 1, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  10. DH

    The school, coach and team members show real character and conviction to their beliefs and faith! I applaud them! Those are traits that are sorely lacking in today's society. Observing the Sabbath is not easy and requires a lot of sacrifices – life-long sacrifices! Why not accommodate the team's belief, modify the schedule and allow them to play. They've earned it! They will never know who the true state champs are without their participation in the playoffs. I hope the decisions makers take a more enlightened view!

    March 1, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  11. Elliot

    Why do my fellow athliest not come out of the woodwork to make fun of jews like they do Christians on these blogs? They both believe in ridiculous stuff, not playing basketball on Saturday goes against religion? That is 100% wacko.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • susanbellnc

      I'm actually an agnostic, used to be a church-going Christian, and even then I didn't follow the no work on Sunday stuff. But, I still respect anyone who sticks to their beliefs like that. It may seem silly to some, but it is their belief and they have the right to follow that.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • KeepYourBibleOuttaMaCoffin

      Perhaps it's because Christianity is a colonizaing religeon that insists on making every non-christian a christian, the new testament (not the torah 🙂 insists that you enlighten the non believers...the jews however are like uhh you wanna be a jew mmmm...ehhhh....no....ok ok learn the torah, learn the other books, jump through hoops prove you want to be a jew... they keep to themselves that's why aethiests attack Christians, because christians passively or intently attack everything non-christian

      March 1, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • BR

      Make fun of anybody? Is that what you think Atheism is about? You are childish.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  12. socalgal

    Finally, a sports team with scruples–and then they're the object of discrimination. If accommodations are made for no games on Sunday, and other groups have been accommodated for their beliefs–definitely this is discrimination.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  13. Jimbo

    Religion just gets in the way of everything, even basketball. These 1000 year old traditions do nothing for anyone except cause annoyance. If you don't want to play on Saturday, fine you lose...simple.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • memphispiano

      I hate to tell you but more schedules are adjusted per week because of sports activities than ever by religion. I am not Jewish but I would be more than happy to accommodate their priorities because I far more respect someone who loves sports but realizes that sports are not the most important thing in the world. You obviously have a very shallow life.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  14. JSP

    As usual, the Jews are downtrodden. I am not Jewish, but I understand their situation and agree with their decision.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Circus

      As usual....downtrodden? Oh, come on now.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  15. Lorme

    As a non observant Jew I respect the schools decision as it is their belief to follow the rules of their faith. It should be changed to a day that can accomadate everybody as I am sure Sunday morning's in Texas are church day's.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • chefdugan

      The book of genesis is fictiion of the highest order. Maybe instead of playing they can break out a couple of talking snakes for entertainment. Organized religion of any kind is stupid and so is faith – that eternal bridge to nowhere.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Circus

      Chefdugan – why stop at the Book of Genesis.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  16. No-Way

    I agree with Michael, the world doesn't stop for a certain group of people. It's their choice not to play.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Just Say'in


      March 1, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Danman

      it stops for christians in texas on sunday, why don't they play on sunday?

      March 1, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Just Say'in

      More than likely they are accommodating the majority of players. Regardless they accepted the rules when they joined.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  17. BR

    Momoya: Why do you think showing understanding is a bad thing? There is no harm in asking for a rescheduling. What would be the harm to take an opportunity to show respect? Would the Christian team ask the Jewish team for a reschedule if the game fell on Sunday? Would you understand THAT? Would you tell them to forfeit? What do you gain?

    March 1, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Just Say'in

      Other than the fact they agreed to these rules going in and are now asking for special accommodations. Other than moving it to school hours when they should be in class and not playing a useless sport? Your Sunday argument is completely lost on an Atheist btw.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  18. Lisa

    Great move!!! Shabbat Shalom...

    March 1, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  19. Avi

    What the article doesn't mention is that in the past, the league had made schedule changes to accomodate a Seventh Day Adventist school's request not to play on Sabbath. Accomodations, if reasonably possible, should be made.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  20. Michael

    oh well, what are the rest of the teams supposed to do, wait for them to be done praying? It's their decision not to play.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Just Say'in

      Agreed. They knew this going in and the only ones preventing them from playing are themselvs.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:23 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.