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. andy

    This is just silly. Decide what you are going to be: A fundamental religious nutcase group, or a basketball team. You can't be both.

    News Flash guys: God does not care about you staying home one day a week- especially to ruin all the hard work these athletes have accomplished for no good reason at all.

    Welcome to the 21st century guys.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Since the kids "are" the athletes then is it not theirs to sacrifice.

      I think God or Gods would feel pretty impressed about that.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • andy

      huh? i have no idea what you are trying to say.

      February 29, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  2. The Central Scrutinizer

    This is an old Jewish favorite, I hope you will enjoy it:


    Back in the night is the father of hell,

    By command that I won’t go (?),

    If you’re a stranger your life is in danger, so guard your lives.

    I've a vocation of verse meditation, I know if it's to ditch, Optimum (?), yes I'm a witch.

    No fantasy, you’re stuck with me, No wonder evil, none is there to be found.

    Sinning every day, cussing all the way.

    No fantasy, you’re trapped with me, Just don't get tired and I won’t bring you down,

    Rather be a b.itch, just look at me, Bein' a witch is what I'd rather be,

    You just make me mad, I'll let you see, What I'd rather be, What I'd rather feel.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  3. Bob

    High school sports are dumb, but not quite as dumb as religion.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • dude

      Amen Brother!! lol

      I found out today that this chick i kinda dug is all religious.... NEEEEEEEEXT.


      February 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • jomamma

      Bob is a bigot who likes hating on children.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      This "chick"... wow, so you worship at the alter of Rick James and Ike Turner? 🙂

      I think the last time I heard a woman called a "chick" it was Larry from Three's Company.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Those are the best kind dude! Naughty....

      February 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  4. Sports Fan

    Hey kids, put the rock in the peach basket and shut up already. Your pal, Sports Fan.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  5. Tom Tom the Piper's Son

    I'm not a boy, not yet a man.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Yo TT, have you been sufficiently carnal today?

      February 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  6. theinfidel2

    I am sure these kids, just like their parents, are very selective about what religious laws they do or do not observe: they do not follow everything that the Jewish law demands: so they pick the easy ones to follow and pretend the other ones don't exist. They observe the Sabbath, which comes from Genesis, cuz it's easy, but I am sure even these kids (or their parents) would not execute those fellow Jews who do work on the Sabbath, even though Leviticus demands it. My point is, their dedication to faith is phony and selective: had they followed everything the Halakah says, they wouldn't be playing basketball to begin with...

    February 29, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • michael

      they are Orthodox you moron. they are the most observant of all Jews. take your head out of your ass.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Dude

      You're a jerk...along with the majority of other idiots that are posting comments

      February 29, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Is it written some where that they can not slam dunk or shoot three pointers?

      I mean really dude, why declare that a child or their parents are phony? In this society we have begun to doubt everyones motives for doing anything. Has it come to that point that children making a moral choice are doubted to the point that adults would label them as phony?

      February 29, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Aaron

      You are wrong in so many ways. This was an orthodox school. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the game of basketball. Please read before you post these ridiculous comments.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • andy

      Hey I know- I'm gonna create an over-bearing, meaningless, inconvienient ruleset, and then complain when everyone else won't accomadate me... /facepalm

      February 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  7. Jimtanker


    February 29, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  8. george in texas

    don't they do the pledge of allegiance at ethnic schools?

    February 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Kelly

      I'm really unclear on your point. But realize that the line "one nation under God" is not offensive to Orthodox Jews, because our God is the same as the Christian God. Did I address your question? Or do you think that the pledge of allegiance requires Friday night football games?

      February 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  9. Justin

    I am a Sabbath keeping Christian. I think what this school is doing is admirable. I understand what the organization is doing, however, by not letting them play. I wish they would let them play, as they are practicing what God intended us to do by keeping the Sabbath. As it stands now, they may not be rewarded by the secular crowd of tournament organizers, but at least they are finding favor in God's eyes.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • michael

      how can you "understand" what the organization is doing? for someone (like yourself) who finds that the Jewish school is taking G-d's course, it's pretty unbelievable for you to think that the organization is in any case right. if a fellow Catholic school said they couldn't play because they were going on a Church retreat for the weekend, i'm sure TAPPS would accommodate them.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Michael, but your assuming such. Also do you feel that a church outing is the same as the Sabbath? I mean I could see a game on Christmas or Easter but a church cookout?

      I think you are stretching a bit 🙂

      February 29, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  10. Iqbal Khan

    Proof 9-11 was an inside JOB! check Ur self....


    February 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • michael


      February 29, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      I don't know if it proves anything about 9/11 (I couldn't watch it past the frist two minutes) but it does prove Aliens exist.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  11. JohhnyontehSport

    These kids have it all wrong. We Jews dont play on sports teams. We OWN sports teams.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • gf

      Don't start with those comments or we could follow with: you OWN the sports teams and also do things like Bernard Madoff did. Is that a fair?

      February 29, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • BR

      Something tells me you are not Jewish. Nice try, but no cigar.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  12. michael

    "the Board pointed out that TAPPS schedules its team sports championship on Fridays and Saturdays" - unless there is a time given, that pretty much means nothing. As an alumni from a Jewish Day School, I fully support Beren and their decision to not play. This is a State tournament game, not a regular season one, and for TAPPS to not accommodate this school is pretty embarrassing for the state of Texas. the public shouldn't expect too much though, we are talking about a redneck filled state full of Jesus lovers. their bylaws are from the 70s before a Jewish school existed in their league, so a little updating is necessary there. on top of that, if they are going to ban Sunday games for Church, they had better be damn careful with their final decision regarding this particular game. TAPPS is pretty much saying "you can believe in any faith you want, but if it's not Christian, don't expect us to accommodate you". Texas disgusts me.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • LC

      I applaud the kids and coach for standing by their convictions. I'm Christian (the Sunday kind) and think they should be accomodated for their Sabbath. Muslims and Christian Seventh Day Adventists are also not Sunday worshippers. The organizers have an excellent opportunity to show what they profess is the heart of the game – and that is sportsmanship.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • gf

      Michael: While Christians can understand your point, please refrain from using phrases such as "we are talking about a redneck filled state full of Jesus lovers" Being a Jesus lover is not a sin. You like to be respected, do the same for others.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Chris

      I'm all for separation of church and state, and so on and so forth. But did nobody in these comments (except the others who mentioned it) read far enough to see that the school was informed nearly a year ago that playoff games would be played exactly at these times? Considering that, who cares, including CNN? My guess is that the school or someone associated with it informed the media so they could get 15 minutes in the devout spotlight, but maybe that's just the cynic in me.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Jennifer C

      Michael, I am a liberal New York "Jesus lover". I am as proud of this as you are of your beliefs. I find your remarks offensive. By the way, I am also disgusted that TAPPS will not allow a simple time change.

      February 29, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Mark

      "we are talking about a redneck filled state full of Jesus lovers"

      Wow, your comment is disguisting! We, Jews, get to live in the best country in the world, and we should be thankful for this opportunity. Don't like Texas – move to Israel, no one is stopping you. Our sages teach us "din de medina – din" – "the law of the country (you live in) – is THE LAW", go read Talmud.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  13. God

    It's ok with me if you guys want to play. I've got TiVo.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  14. Joe

    First, this is apparently not a government organization but a league specifically intended for religious and private schools. In establishing it's policy to observe the Christian Sabbath exclusively I guess they should just be honest and change their name to the Christian School League; then there wouldn't be a debate. A unanimous vote! So much for religious tolerance in the Bible Belt.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  15. Ramy

    By laws forbid games on Sundays but if you want to stay in the league you must play on Saturday ... No flexibility is allowed. This is seriously considered fair, and democratic in the land of the brave and the home of the free :)))) ha ha ha .... Why not change the rules .... OMG ... I actually said CHANGE ... Change the old anachronistic rules and let the teams chose if they want to play Friday, Saturday or Sunday so everyone is comfortable and not only the Christian majority. lol

    February 29, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  16. denim

    Also, in case of an Islam member school, they should only hold games Monday through Thursday. (I'm Jewish)

    February 29, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • michael

      Muslims suck at sports (cricket doesn't count) so they don't need to worry about State scheduling.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • gf

      Michael: you have a problem with anybody that is not Jewish it seems! So much for tolerance. I get it: one should only see things from the Jewish point of view.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Edwin

      Let's be realistic, denim: a private muslim school in Texas would be targeted by arson, repeatedly, until its creators gave up and moved somewhere else. Anti-semitism may be tough, but it is nothing like the anti-muslim intolerance in many parts of this country.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Aaron

      Michael, as an alumni from an orthodox school as well, it's pretty low that you would say that about another religion like that. Try to not be hypocritical. You give other Jews bad names on these boards when you say stuff like that.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  17. Lee Sandler

    I applaud this team for taking action on their belief. Unfortunately there are too many people, who are blind-sided, who think that just because their religion is the majority, they should set all the rules. How many of the majority would come to a game if it were scheduled on Christmas or Easter? They know better not to do that, but too many people do not want to accommodate others who have different beliefs (within reason)!

    February 29, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  18. Mark

    I am a Jew, however I support the board's decision. Fact of the matter is that the U.S. is a predominately Christian country, and if we, Jews, want to live in a country where Shabbat laws are observed, we can all move to Israel. Now why the board wouldn't simply move the game to early Friday afternoon is beyond me, however if they decided they won't, fine. Tough luck.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Jack Frost

      I am Jew also, but you're a Jew and a Jerk! The league admitted an orthodox Jewish school and then tells them to kiss off because they're expendable Jews and we don't want faith to get in the way of a play off schedule. This is so wrong. Christians curtail events for Xmas, Easter, Good Friday, and Sunday and God only knows what else. But not allowing just a few hours? What a slap in the face to Judaism. What if this was Xmas? What would the good people do then? Play on Xmas eve? Imagine a basketball game on erev Xmas! Holy Moly! Aint gonna happen!

      February 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • teacher

      Shame on you! Will the discrimination ever end? I didn't get an award 50 years ago because one of the events was held on Yom Kippur. However, Catholic kids are excused at noon every Wednesday for reiligious school.My niece, recently, was told take your final on Yom Kippur or get an F and there goes your chance of getting into a UC school. Public schools, mind you. This is a Christian country. It needs to be non-denominational.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • lol

      Jack Frost: the NBA would like to have a word with you. Their Christmas day games are among the highest-rated.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Edwin

      teacher: if your orthodox niece's experience occurred in a public school, she should have had grounds for legal action and appeal. With a halfway decent lawyer, they would have found in her favor, fired the school board, and granted her an A without even taking the exam. Plus, the experience would have given her something to write about on her college application.

      Even if the legal appeal failed (bad lawyer scenario), she could have appealed to the UC system authorities to ignore the F on grounds. If her grades were otherwise excellent and her application essay showed merit, the UC system would almost certainly have reconsidered her.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • JC

      Hey Jack Frost, the holiday is CHRISTmas.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  19. objective voice

    it's great they are so committed to their convictions, but by the looks of the roster, will these short scrawny jewish kids really compete? additionally, the league is really wrong to hold the tourney on saturday if there are jewish and 7th day schools competing.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Josh

      I'm getting really tired of the kids being Jewish somehow indicating their athleticism. All jokes aside, there have been some amazing Jewish athletes. Please check out this slideshow to see a few. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/436252-the-25-greatest-jewish-athletes-of-all-time/page/26

      February 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  20. Pineal

    So what about Atheists or people who do not adhere to the 3 big ones? Do we accomodate every single one? Do we also accommodate the person who claims he follows a faith that does not allow him to brush his teeth before 11pm? Where do we separate religion and government?

    If you have a faith you are more than welcome to profess it. However, if your faith implies that business of the day has to be curtailed or amended then in my opinion you will have to recuse yourself from those activities and let people who don't follow your faith continue on with their activities.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • texgirl2762

      That's ridiculous. If you accommodate someone without doing any real harm, you should. What a selfish sack of cr@p you are.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Iconoclast

      First off this is a league consisting of religious schools, so government has nothing to do with it. As an Athiest myself, I ask just when is the Atheist sabbath? To me the sabbath is just a day off work, and in my little overly religious town, it means I have to drive further to buy beer. An Atheist team probably would not even ask to join this league so who cares? As an ex Jew, It does hurt a little, but they do indicate in the article that they were notified of these rules when they asked to join the league. So I'm conflicted, on the one hand, no it's not really fair, on the other hand, they knew what they were getting into. Flip a coin I guess...

      February 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Edwin

      Pineal: part of the burden of living in a multicultural country is being inconvenienced by the needs of those from other cultures. If you find it bothersome, I am sure several European countries are more to your liking. Or yes, you could work to change the United States from a land of tolerance to one of intolerance and conformity... oh, wait that is already happening...

      February 29, 2012 at 6:55 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.