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. character

    If you take away the religious aspects it looks like a group of individuals forcing others to play when they want and not to what was agreed upon before the season started.

    However, the reality is it is a bunch of kids who just want to play ball and not disappoint their parents or religious leaders. I am sure they have a relationship with God and I applaud them for making that important to them.

    So since that is what we are talking about here..MOVE THE GAME..if the other team is worth their weight in salt they would move it and want to earn the next step..Knowing Texas I am sure this is the case.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  2. rEaLLy?

    Email "Let them play" to tappsnet@gmail.com

    February 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  3. toadears

    Hmm no bashing of their beliefs yet? Give it time...........................

    February 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • BR

      Don't worry. It's been done in a few posts. Some of these people have the mentality of the Crusaders.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  4. mstein

    Tapps is not (topps ) in my book. I consider it Flop(ps).
    Kids learn from adults. The nine member adults are not people to emulate.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  5. Joe

    It's amazing how crude and abusive most of the atheists in here are. You say you're anti-religion, but you proselytize your non-religion like an Evangelical Christian. And you do it in the most crude, caustic, obnoxious, and down right mean way possible too. I thought you were supposed to be better than that.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • toadears

      Didn't you know that Christians are the new N word? Oh yeah, anybody can kick them around. LOL Like you, for instance. When the people, and I use that term loosely because I mean this generation of snot nosed punks, outlaw religion completely, they will stop supporting Israel completely. It's already starting. First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out...etc.

      February 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Devon

      I notice the exact thing. I find it hilarious how atheists proselytize more than Evangelical Christians which is ridiculous. Not only that, but they insult people for believing in religion and imply they're inferior to atheists.

      Sometimes I hate atheists more than Evangelicals.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • EatYouAlive

      Nope, we are peaceful folks but are tired of the insanity religions spouts as truth. So, take your hurt feelings and shove them where the good lord split ya.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  6. Cybersport

    Wrong decision by the satte association there. Here in PA a team refused to play on Sunday a couple years ago when a playoff game was re-scheduled for Sunday because of snow.

    The game ended up being moved to Monday by the state association here.

    Religious tolerance is not a big thing in the Bible Belt.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • EatYouAlive

      Religion is not a good excuse to duck out of anything.

      February 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  7. EatYouAlive

    To give up your shot at basketball glory to hear the sick sounds of Tony Iommi is quite commendable.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  8. curt

    Does playing a game of basketball really violate their sabbath? It is a sport played for fun, not a job. Is fun not allowed on the sabbath?

    February 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Judge_Incompetent

      Fun is not allowed in Judaism.

      February 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Susan

      If you're Orthodox, a lot of things, other than what we consider to be "work" is not allowed on the sabbath. A couple of other things that aren't allowed on shabbat are driving a car (to or from the game) and carrying objects (such as a basketball).

      February 29, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • BR

      It's clear that in your world, you would judge someone else's values according to your values. Can't you just allow that playing basketball is disallowed on Sabbath for Jews? This would be a really good opportunity for you to show some understanding, even though it fails your validity test.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  9. EatYouAlive

    I am so embarrassed for humanity.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  10. Wil in LA

    I didn't think they allowed jews in Texas.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  11. isolate

    If there was any honor left in the world, the replacement team would refuse to play. That would be a true sign of character. There's more to life than high-school sports.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  12. Debra

    This is baloney. If they are willing to change the times for weather related events, why not a move to Friday morning? Typical Texas...and I'm a Texan.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  13. mcbeast

    guess they don't roll on shabbos, dude!

    February 29, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  14. JS

    Well, in the end it's a bunch of adults depriving the kids of a chance to shine...isn't the kids what it's really about? I'm not going to debate the 'rules'...this is why you have governing boards...otherwise everything would go on auto pilot. If I were the opposing school, I wouldn't be happy about having to play a lesser quality team that was elevated due to this forfeiture. Seems odd that not one member of that board sided with making an allowance.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  15. GeorgeBos95

    The Board is a bunch of Texas Twits – arrogant, bullheaded, and dumb. A pathetic combination.

    Move the damn game time, it isn't written in stone.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  16. Joe

    @momoya...they probably joined because it was the only league available. this is texas, not tel aviv

    February 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • momoya

      Nobody made them join. They joined the league knowing the rules. It's like christians getting a divorce. The bible doesn't allow it, but what do they care?

      February 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  17. Oodoodanoo

    Man, I think it's great that these guys want to chill out and listen to some Sabbath.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  18. Susan

    Looking at it logically, Beren Academy was informed of TAPP's policy when they joined. TAPP is just "following the rules". Looking at it humanistically, would it really hurt anyone to move the game up a few hours? It's not like TAPP was asked to reschedule to Sunday.
    I'm not surprised by TAPP's decision or by the ati-Semetic tone of most of the posts. Being in the majority and/or anonymous really frees people up to be mean.
    As for the students, they are learning to prioritize.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  19. David Kimball

    When will we learn that we cannot us have a Pluralistic society with the diversity of religions that we have. Shall we reserve Fridays for the Muslims? And Saturdays for the Jew? And Sundays for the Christians? Society cannot act according to the beliefs of many religions. Those religions can believe whatever they want to believe, but they cannot expect society to act according to their beliefs, nor should they be exempt from society.

    We need to use a Secularism approach which determines how society acts without regard to any religion. Secularism does not forbid religions, it just says that religions can belief what they want, but not require any actions of society.

    I wonder how many of the boys really feel good about this decision by their coach? I've been there. I know that there will be kids voicing support. But I also know that inside they wish that they could play. I've been there.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • NC gal

      If only we did have a secular approach. Instead, what we have is a Christian approach. In my N.C. community, Christian prayers are said at government meetings, our children have off for the Christmas and Easter holidays, and certain stores are closed on Sundays. If we had a truly pluralistic or society, we might possibly take into account that we have many different religions and cultures – even in my small town – and society would not be geared toward only Christian beliefs and practices.
      And sure, the students must feel bad, but they are standing up for their beliefs, similar to Tim Tebow.

      February 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • EatYouAlive

      Easter Bunny > Tim Tebow

      February 29, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • BR

      NC Gal: WELL said.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  20. momoya

    Why would a Jewish school join a league that plays on the Sabbath? When you join a league you agree with their policies. It's like pumping your gas and then demanding a refund because you're worried about global warming.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Jon in Balto.

      How many Jewish basketball high school leagues do you think there are in this part of Texas?

      February 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Hippolyta

      That might be the most ridiculous and irrelevant analogy I've ever heard. In fact, I think your analogy is analog to this one: drinking a glass of water is like shoving a pencil up your nose. Neither relevant, nor reasonably comparable.

      February 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Frank Berger

      The league accepted the membership of Berens Academy knowing they wouldn't play on the Jewish Sabbath. Berens joined the league knowing they might have games scheduled on the Sabbath. So when it has come up, Berens refuses to play. No problem.

      Whether the governing board has a good reason to refuse to reschedule Beren's games is a different question. I suspect they are more afraid of being criticized for giving special treatment to one school than they are of charges of anti-semitism or just mindless inflexibility. At the least, you'd think they could ask Beren's opponent if they mind being rescheduled.

      February 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • momoya


      When you pump gas you agree to pay for the gas you pump; when you join a league you agree to abide by the league's rules.

      After you pump gas you can't demand your money back for personal, moral reasons; when you join a league you can't expect them to change for personal, religious/moral reasons.

      Since the analogy is just fine; your reasoning was obviously flawed.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • momoya

      @jon in Balto

      So? they agreed to the league's rules when they joined. Why should they get the right to change the league's way of conducting their business?

      February 29, 2012 at 6:26 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.