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. PKinTX

    I applaud their standing on principles. I think the article only made one mistake. According to the BIble book of Genesis, the Friday night to Saturday night Sabbath (Shabbat) was established in Eden with Adam and Eve – many, many years before the Jews existed as a unique people group. So, if you hold to the Bible, it is the Sabbath for all mankind, not just the Jews. Perhaps this publicity will help #9 on this list http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/01/12-faith-based-predictions-for-2012/ come true.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  2. Walter Sobchak

    I don't roll on Shabbos either!!!

    February 29, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  3. joe

    the school was told that these games would be on this day. correct? still they say ok we want in anyway. the jacked up thing is these kids(who i'm sure are being coerced by thier religious parents and faculty to skip the game) are the ones being punished. I'm not intrested in framing my daily life around religioun. in fact I think its all a load of crap that does the world a great deal of harm. having said that tapps should do the right thing an fix it so these kids can play. THEY EARNED IT!!!!!!

    February 29, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  4. David

    he issue comes down to whether you also make allowance for many Muslims not playing sports on Fridays as well as some Christians not playing on Sundays. The fact is polls show well over 95% of American Jews do not absorb Sabbath prohibitions and are highly secular.

    So this isn't about Judaism which makes up 3.2% of the population, but about about especially small numbers of orthodox groups within Judaism or any religious group . America is very tolerant, but you cant have situations where especially orthodox people of any religion can expect society to bend to them.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • David

      I shoudl also note that in the local press in Texas it has been noted that Beren Academy has been playing Saturday games all along as well as engadging in other school activities on Saturday. Apparently they have changed their stance due to some parents' protests. So it is the Jewish school that has changed its views and policy

      February 29, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Always wondered why people who have realized how silly most of those "god's" rules and commandments are haven't just dropped identifying themselves as part of the religion totally. Further shows how ingrained religion is in most people due to culture and people influencing you. Not because it is a very logical, or even the best theory on origins of life.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Beren

      I used to work at Beren – they have events on Saturday NIGHT – after the Sabbath.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • David

      "Beren" look at the league site's schedule. The Beren academy has been playing games on SATURDAY MORNINGS for TWO YEARS. The Beren academy played games on Saturday mornings, not Saturday after sundown!!!

      March 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  5. Michael

    Get thoes damn jews out of here!!!

    February 29, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Pastafarian

      you're an idiot.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Sajor

      Maybe you should get yourself to grammar school

      February 29, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  6. Greenspam

    So do these players go out and have a fun time on Friday nights or not?

    February 29, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  7. RottenTea

    If it were a Christian School that was required to play on Sunday, people would be outraged and the game would be rescheduled!!!

    February 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Jame


      February 29, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • David

      the league does play on Sundays and has Christians see their website. 30% of their games were on Sundays you tw1t.

      February 29, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  8. hwrcpa

    The league can accomidate christians but not the jewish faith. Anyway, the school is not complaining or asking the league to change it's rules. Which I think is admirable. Nor are they making a big deal out of it. It seems the news is making a bigger deal out of it than what the school even wants. There is no story hear folks...move along.

    February 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • David

      @hwcp, the league has made no special accommodating of Christians. it has had games on Sundays,. see their own site.

      February 29, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Never Debate

      If there is no story, why do you even bother to post your comment?

      February 29, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Barry

      @David, I guess you didn't read to the end of the article. See the last sentence in the 5th paragraph from the bottom: "At the same time, the bylaws forbid games on Sunday, a nod to Christian Sabbath observance."

      February 29, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  9. Heavy Sarcasm

    Frankly, I'm just utterly SHOCKED that there exists bigotry like this in Texas. Texans are usually so darn tolerant! I mean really, the nerve of the Jewish community to schedule their Sabbath on a day set aside for basketball. Serves them right for being different. Ridiculous I says!

    February 29, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      Texas is one of the most "diverse" states in the country. Over 50% of the population (and that's just the part that actually takes the census) is non-white. The only bias in Texas is against white males, who are considered to be the epitome of all that is evil.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • fooloof

      Orthodox Jewish laws are antiquated. If they choose to observe them, then they must suffer the consequences. It would be nice if the league could reschedule the game, but it is not obligated to do so. They should form a Jewish League.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  10. wiseperse

    Same league as the Ayatollahs in the Islamic Republic of Iran! Look guys, with all due respect,we are in the 21st century. The world has changed from the time Bible was written. Let's be wise enough to move on.

    February 29, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • TheMendicantBias

      Freedom of religion. Let them practice their religion in peace so long as they aren't giving anyone else trouble.

      It's a great thing, really. You atheists do your thang, Jews will do their thang, Christians will do their thang, Muslims will do their thang, Buddhists will do their thang, and Hindus will do their thang. It all works out.

      February 29, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  11. dinak

    This team signed up to be in this particular league knowing full well that there were Friday night and Saturday games – they shouldn't have signed up if they didn't like the schedule.

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

      In other words the league has banned religious Jews from participating in their program.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  12. Dan

    I am so sick of people with their foolish religions.

    February 29, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • So?

      Have you considered suicide? Many do. It is definitely a way out for you.

      February 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Anne Maxson

      i am so sick of uneducated morons ,

      February 29, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • danright!

      Nothing ignorant or vexing about Dan's comment. He's right: observance of religious beliefs is nonsense. So is wearing religious garb. Why do jewish men wear a skullcap, for example, just to advertize their spiritual beliefs. Who cares?

      February 29, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  13. Roundball fan

    Big freakin' deal. Move the game up a few hours.

    February 29, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  14. Joel Kessler

    I personally find this reprehensible. The name of this league is the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. There is nothing that would suggest that this is limited to Christian schools and they should get their heads out of the dark ages and realize that there are private and parochial schools with students who follow Friday and Saturday as their Sabbaths. I think that we should all complain about this and send e-mails to this league. Their e-mail address is edd@tapps.net.

    February 29, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Ricardo

      Yeah, it's really a darn shame that this school won't able to play, Kessler. The league should accommodate every religion. That leaves, let's see, Monday and Thursday mornings. Oh wait, the Pigmallion religion of Zimbabwe has the Feast of the Earth on a Thursday, so all games must be scheduled for Monday mornings only. You need to turn your world view on its head, Kessler. The Jewish school chooses to forfeit. Big deal. The pick-your-fanatics school chooses to forfeit. Big deal.

      February 29, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  15. DumpTheGOP

    Much ado about NOTHING ... Religion is NOTHING!!!

    February 29, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • crazyvermont

      Then why comment.....seems it must get under your skin a bit for being nothing lol

      February 29, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • RWTJR

      So much of nothing that you feel the need to reply?

      February 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Ricardo

      It's a way that some people – many people – need to feel some meaning in their lives. Sad really. But let them do so; just don't try to push it on the rest of us. Fat chance; that's what organized religions do best, to increase their wealth and influence.

      February 29, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  16. micook

    Shabbat lay down the round ball and Shabbat observe the Sabbath!

    February 29, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  17. micook

    Stop the presses! Jews are good at basketball!

    February 29, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  18. Kristi Carlson

    This is inspiring. But you need to correct something. It is NOT the "Jewish" Sabbath. It is the BIBLICAL Sabbath. God set aside the seventh day of the week, which is Saturday to be the Sabbath – a day of rest. He did this in the Garden of Eden at the close of creation – there were no Jews then. There is only one Sabbath. It is THE Sabbath. There is no such thing as the "Jewish Sabbath".

    February 29, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • OfraHaza


      February 29, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • gabe

      shut up.

      February 29, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • gabe


      February 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Jen

      You are absolutely correct. That was my first thought reading this. It is very inspiring, but for the author to say it is the Jewish Sabbath is like saying the Bible is only for Jews. I am not Jewish, but do observe the Biblical Sabbath, because nowhere in the Bible does it say it was changed by God. It was written in stone for a reason. 😉

      February 29, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Iskinder

      I agree Kristi!

      February 29, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Mark

      Funny how you say it's not the Jewish Sabbath, and someone replied "Amen", which is from the Hebrew word L'Hamin, which is "To Believe".

      Yep, all your Christians singing AMEN are actually saying the Hebrew word for believe.

      Every time.

      February 29, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Ricardo

      According to the piece of fiction/mythology you call "the bible".

      February 29, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • rs1201

      this is the 21st century...there is a Jewish Sabbath and a Christian Sabbath...Saturday and Sunday respectively. Adam and Eve happened almost 6000 years ago...

      February 29, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      Friday sundown to Saturday sundown IS the Jewish sabbath. The Christian Sabbath is Sunday because that's the day Christ rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven after talking to Mary Magdelene and His Disciples.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • AK

      Agreed. And where in the Bible does it say that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath? It doesn't. There's only one Biblical Sabbath, and that's Friday night to Saturday night. Whether you choose to observe that or not is entirely your choice, but there's no such thing as the "christian" Sabbath in the Bible. Interestingly, Sunday was actually the day of worship manufactured by the Catholic church.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • David

      the seventh day has been Sunday in Europe for millenia

      March 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  19. brian


    February 29, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer


      February 29, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  20. GodsPeople

    I'm rather proud. these k-i-k-e-s stuck to their beliefs.

    February 29, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Ah...the troll is back. Welcome back.

      February 29, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      Thanks! Good to be back! Although I'm not a troll. That's GodPot.

      February 29, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Nah...you might not be like Godpot but I have a feeling your a different breed of troll.

      February 29, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      I dunno, I tend to be educated. Probably the years of schooling and research I've done. Everything I say is right. GodPot, on the other hand, was running around pretending to be me earlier, and ended up getting my posting abilities removed, which meant I couldn't respond to legit posts.

      February 29, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      GP, "they" don't take away your posting abilities. Here is your dunce cap, go sit in the corner.

      February 29, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      OK, so I can't type kike or reliably deal with the filter or the reply link. I'm still as educated as anyone here.

      February 29, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      AND again someone pretending to be me. So mature. Atheists are so bright!

      February 29, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      so yeah I haven't been able to post until now. Anything I posted, even if all it said was, "can I post now?" did not show up for the last hour or so.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • gar

      You're sick.

      March 1, 2012 at 3:56 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.