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. Larry Silverstein







    March 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • stan t

      dont forget about the lavon affair

      March 1, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • David

      Larry, must feel good to be an useful idiot...

      March 1, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • sbp

      Go to "Aryan Brotherhood Crackpots Exposed" and see how many aliases one guy can come up with in a single day to post the same drivel over and over again.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  2. David Johnson

    O.M.G.! Shades of "Chariots of Fire"! Minus the wondrous music...

    Only problem is, the god that they would "respect", does not exist. No bearded spirit is looking down and showering blessings on this group of his chosen people. Or anyone else for that matter.

    Your religion, your belief, might give you the warm and fuzzies, but you are not alone. People of every faith experience this. It is caused by brain chemistry. If the feeling was only experienced by one religious group, there wouldn't be any others. Right?

    God didn't appear to care when 6 million Jews were murdered by a madman. A madman that god could have calmed down, with a stroke.

    This is also true of altar boys and other children, some of who are killed. The all good, all loving god allows the atrocities.

    Some say, everything will be made right in the second life. Tears will be wiped away and the wrong doers will be punished.

    I have no way to falsify this. But I can say there appears to be no evidence, for this all loving, all good, god in this world.

    So, I say: " Play Ball!"


    March 1, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  3. Kei Yuuki

    In order to play the game, you must pay the price, that goes for everyone.

    March 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  4. BinyaminW

    Having to bring up the issue of keeping Shabbat with employers is always a fun conversation. I worked in one office where when Shabbat was starting earlier during the winter I had to leave earlier and when I talked to my boss about it and outed myself as a Jew things around the office just got hostile. I also had a boss in high school who claimed that I was just asking to not work Friday nights so I could go out an party. It's good to see that these kids are standing up for their values. In these times it's important for us Jews to do that.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  5. David

    Since they are not stoning people to death for working on the sabbath I don't see why they feel the need to follow any of the other ridiculous rules of their so-called holy books.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • what?

      Maybe because they like their beliefs and want to keep traditions, oh enlightened one.

      March 1, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • stan t

      what – if they like their traditions and what to keep to their faith then they need to start stoning people for noth keeping the sabbath. thats part of the bible too. if the book is the work of god why should you get to pick and choose what parts of it you are going to follow?

      March 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  6. humtake

    It is a great thing to exercise your right to practice whichever religion you follow, that is something the reinforces our great country's success. But to expect to be treated differently and try to get the rules changed because of your religion...you completely lost the support of most.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Lyn

      As a college instructor, in a major state university, I have been REQUIRED for the past 6 years to make exception for Moslem students celebrating Ramadan & prayers! ...excused tardiness, allowance to leave early, privilege to make up missed classes & labs. I commend Beren Assembly for “standing tall” for their beliefs...Our country was established on religious tolerance.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  7. BillT

    I'm glad the boys are following their beliefs. They are making more noise for the Lord not playing than if the won the State Championship. God's ways are mysterious but clear in the end.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  8. Jim in Washington

    if I say "Who cares?" am I an anti-semite and holocaust denier?

    March 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Edwin

      No, but you're still an ignoramus for making a stupid flame baiting comment.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Nope, it does not. Just makes you that same arrogant type of person that said "who cares" when Christopher Hitchens died. You just wanted to post to sorta say that you care enough to be a troll.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Jim in Washington

      That's mean guys. Especially since it was probably the school Ayatollahs and not the players who came up with this plan so we could all think about how awesome is their faith.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • what?

      Just an idiot who feels his lack of a religion makes him an expert on all religions.

      March 1, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Mark from Middle River

      You said: "Nope, it does not. Just makes you that same arrogant type of person that said "who cares" when Christopher Hitchens died. You just wanted to post to sorta say that you care enough to be a troll."

      Or, by saying, "who cares", the person is expressing his true feelings. He doesn't care if the Sabbath is observed or not.

      I think, if it makes them happy to not play, then it should be so. I do not believe any schedule should be changed, or special provisions made.

      Perhaps one of the kind Evangelicals could remind them that Jesus, healed on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:9-14.). This might make their decision easier.

      Just tryin' not to be a troll

      March 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  9. gcr

    who cares – if you can't play – dont play. No need to change schedules and then where does it end. Some other relegion will have some other restrictions.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Avi

      Actually, another school DID have a religious restriction. A Seventh Day Adventist school asked for a schedule change to avoid playing on Sabbath. Interestingly, their request was accomodated.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Lyn

      As a college instructor, in a major state university, I have been REQUIRED for the past 6 years to make exception for Moslem students celebrating Ramadan & prayers! ...excused tardiness, allowance to leave early, privilege to make up missed classes & labs. I commend Beren Assembly for “standing tall” for their beliefs...Our country was established on religious tolerance.

      March 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  10. Congrats

    Hooray and congrats to the team for having CHARACTER and PRINCIPLES..... lacking these days in many folks, hence some of the ugly comments here.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  11. Loriann Cook

    It is not the Jewish Sabbath, the Sabbath was made for man, Mark 2:27 it was given at the beginning of time. It's to bad it has been changed by man to Sunday. If you want more info on this go to Sabbath truth.com.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • sbp

      I'll go out on a limb here and say the only people interested in your web site are you and the 30 cats roaming your apartment.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  12. Buzz Smith

    I find it interesting that none of the players were interviewed. It would seem, that after working hard to achieve a level of excellence required to participate in a championship of any kind, the players involved must be wondering what they worked for. I would also ask, what is a "day of rest"? Does that mean you must sit in a dark corner somewhere and contemplate the meaning of scriptures that are apparently being interpreted to mean playing a game is not rest. I would never profess to understand the nuances of interpretation either, however, I think that it means that somewhere, at any given time, by any given person, a "rule" can be made based on what someone had for breakfast. My point is simple and probably way off base, but why not just let the kids play and make them have spinach for their penance?

    March 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • BinyaminW

      I keep Shabbat and what my day of rest consist of is attending shul Friday evening, enjoying dinner and conversation with friends and family afterwards, going to shul again in the morning and then spending the rest of Saturday relaxing. It's a really nice break from the hectic workweek and it's nice to disengage from technology for a day.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  13. Aaron

    I remember when I lived near an Amish settlement in Iowa, I heard similar talk about how the Amish did not allow education; yet they are all literate and employed in eco friendly occupations. They would not allow their children have normal lives because they sometimes would not let the boys play basketball and the girls lead cheers. This used to be called the tyranny of the majority. With the internet, one doesn't need to be in the majority, just a bully with impaired grammar, spelling and fractured logic.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • ES

      Well, I don't allow my girls to take cheerleading either and it has nothing to with religion, I am an agnostic. If they want to excercise they can take gymnastics or ballet, which they do. Amish have more common sense than an average american.

      As for Jewish team, the games should be rescheduled. We should respect all faiths. If jews cannot be accomodated then christians shouldn't be allowed to play either. Only atheists should be allowed to play. That would be intresting. I don't think there is a single atheist team in the US.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  14. Duane

    Basketball is a religion!!!They must have known about this in 2009! When they joined.Just play ball!

    March 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • DBOneTime

      So to change it to Friday morning would mean that kids will miss school and that parents may not be able to come and see their children play. I am tired of bending over for any religion – Catholic or Hebrew or whatever. Let the kids play. They knew the schedule. Otherwise play other jewish schools and you won't have a problem. That is what kids do where I live. And I live in a very jewish county. No problems.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  15. ATPMSD

    I was OK with the decision to not move the game right up until I learned that no games are played on Sunday to observe that Sabbath. So this turns out to be discrimination – sue them!

    March 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  16. Goldenboy

    Nobody cares about this stuff except the jews. Loudmouths.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • joe

      ignorant much?

      March 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • sbp

      But SUNDAY, well, that's a whole 'nother story, because that's the RIGHT religion!

      March 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Nina

      You are a bigot. Just a reminder: Jesus was a Jew.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  17. Tan R

    Beren Academy joined a league with the full knowledge that they played on the Sabbath. They have violated the league rules when they competed with the knowledge of the games being held during a time they could not play. With that being said I would think that a solution would be easily accomplished if the board of the league had the children's interest in mind. It is not hard to reschedule a game so the lack of accommodation is inherently wrong.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Eric

      I completely agree with Tan R. The school knew what the situation was when they entered. However, the league has already made a decision to follow another religion by not playing on Sundays. They should easily be able to accommodate Beren. While they have the right to follow their policy, I would think it would be appropriate if you disagree with their decision is to simply boycott their sponsors:
      1. Wilson
      2. LaQuinta hotels
      3. Farmers Insurance
      4. Molten
      5. US games
      6. BSN Sports

      By boycotting, you can express your displeasure with the decision and if you do not care, just do not do anything.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  18. John Q. P.

    Helene, I respect your thoughts but if everyone felt the same as you and believed that their special interest group deserved special treatment as a show of tolerance, not much would get done. It's because most people don't ask for or expect special treatment that anything actually gets done at all. In the case of this team, I've read where they are not asking for special treatment. Now I'm impressed.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • ES

      As it is now, only christians have special accomodations made for them because they are majority and complain the loudest.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  19. Thomas

    The only true god is the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • BillT

      Doubting Thomas.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Nate

      Amen. May all be touched by His Noodly Appendages!

      March 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • humtake

      Well, if that's what you believe in then great. But, basing your beliefs on something that has no texts, history, premonitions, or anything...well, that just means that your ability to have faith in something requires no effort on your part. And that means you are someone who is easily swayed to believe something...way more than any other religious person who at least require a basis for their faith.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  20. Voiceinthewind

    Thst's what it is when you are a Joo. To BAD. Who cares? This is nues.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • jewmextexas

      Hey voiceinthewind kill yourself

      March 1, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Nina

      You are in illiterate bigot. And a hateful person. Shame on you.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
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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.