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. Qularkono

    good for them! Many Christians do this already in just about every sport and every level of play. God commands all of us to "Keep the Sabbaoth Day holy" ....

    February 29, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
  2. CharlieInVA

    Stupid, stupid stupid. They deserve to lose the championship if they're going to give up the shot for foolishness and fairy tales.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Adam

      Mr. Charlie,

      You presume to know more about virtue than this particular school. I am not Jewish, but shame on you for sullying someone's belief system. I am offended by your narrowed mindedness and inability to appreciate the culture of a group of people. I recommend that you read a few books and learn how to accept folks of different beliefs than you.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  3. Valentina

    I wish all jews moved to Israel to be done with their whining..... sick and tired of them bah

    February 29, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • gerry

      And who will do your taxes? Who will write and act in your comedy shows? Who will swim or skate on your Olympic team? Who will teach your college students? Hate to hold up so many Jewish stereotypes, but throw out the Jews and our stock market will fall through the floor. Israel already has the second largest number of firms on the NASDAQ. Israel is the most stable economy in the world. Send all American Jews to Israel and you will be begging to move there yourself in two or three more years. (Not for the food) I know I am a bigot, but you are a bigger bigot.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • bns

      Not to mention that you are now hearing from the future first Jewish President of the United States!

      March 1, 2012 at 12:32 am |
  4. Ohni

    I disagree with Santorum when he says that all Jews and Mormons should be thrown down a well

    February 29, 2012 at 11:45 pm |

    Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things...

    † Atheism makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.
    † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
    † Atheism makes you post stupid things.
    † Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
    † Atheists causes problem in our religious society.
    † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
    † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
    † Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders.
    † No traditional family lifestyle, no holidays, no culture, boring and feeling 'outsider'
    † Atheists are angry, alcoholics and committ the most crime.
    † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
    † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
    † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
    † Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run for presidency.
    † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
    † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
    † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
    † Torah and Talmud says Atheism is bad.
    † Countries where Atheism is prevalent has the highest Suicide rate!

    †† Our Prayers goes to Atheists to be mentally healthy and seek their creator ††

    February 29, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • Eduardo

      Looking at the long list of nonesense you posted makes you wonder who the mentally disturbed character is. This is what makes religions so dangerous to humans. Your hatred towards those who don't share your beliefs is not very god like, is it?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Colin

      The only point worth repsonding to is the following, simply because it is quite a pervasive misapprehension.

      "Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists." This is a common rationalization of the supernatural belifs of Judaism and its derivatives (Christianinty and Islam, most notably).

      Why is it that "we don't quite know yet" equals god, much less the Judeo-Christian god? Why is this particular Iron Age deity (or any for that matter) is given default status? Why not the Hindu god? Why not Allah?

      Look, le'ts be candid, the Judeo-Christian god does not exist, any more than the gods of the Australian Aboriginals. Silly, childish stuff.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • L

      Who would believe in Hindu god with 4 legs LOL!

      Allah means God in Arabic, if you did not know that.

      Christianity is the only true religion. I love Jesus!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • CharlieInVA

      When they were pouring the Kool-Aid, you didn't just go back for seconds, you drank the whole jug.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Bertan

      What's a gothic lifestyle? Didn't they build cathedrals?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Limmy

      I love Jesus. I mean I'm really gay for him.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Colin

      L – YEs, talking snakes, 7 plagues, a worldwide flood, a man living in a whale's belly, the Red Sea splitting, gaints existing, men living to be 900 years old, and cities being destroyed by an angry god, makes a lot more sense doesn't it.

      That we can be so attuned to the silliness of other beliefs, yet so tone deaf to our own silly supernatural beliefs is quite beguiling.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Adam

      Atheism presumes that everything came from nothing, which violates the scientific laws many of that persuasion would cling to. In is outrageous to believe that there is not some external, incomprehensible reality/system/etc at work, according to the laws of physics anyhow.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • Colin

      Adam – I thought Judeo Christians believed their god came from nothing, no (or was "always there" its functional equivalent)?

      As an alternative to assuming that (no doubt your) god did it, read a bit of science. Quantum mechanics and relativity are quite capable of positing rational, plausible explanations for the Universe's origin. They may ultimately prove to be wrong, but they are based on evidence, not Iron Age Palestinian mythology.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • tallulah13

      The original post is very silly and is good for a laugh. Why in the world to people of faith think that lying is a virtue, as long that lie is used to insult someone? My parents taught me to tell the truth. Did your parents fail you, or are you failing them?

      March 1, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • OldAtheist

      Rude atheist-bashing says more about the kind of person your belief creates than it says about atheists. Talking with you face-to-face would be unpleasant for pretty much any kind of belief.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  6. Lisa

    In Bergen County, New Jersey they have strict blue laws where everything must be closed on Sundays (except food/entertainment places). Home to 1 million people and 5 major malls next to NYC.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Tom

      I wish Bergan County would ban loud, fat and stupid people, because they have way more than the national average.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  7. Kat

    The sabbath never stopped Israeli thieves from robbing and murdering Palestinians....oh forgot, murdering non-jews in the so called promised lands by the chosen people is a jewish religious duty.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Dave

      Hello Abdul Mohamed. Jewish law allows them to kill invaders – say sorry to the Pals and suggest they live in Jordan.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Mark1

      The sabbath never stopped Israeli thieves from robbing and murdering the robbers and murderers. Oh yes, I forgot if Israel fights back it is a crime.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Kazan

      Every time the words "Jews" are mentioned in the news, flocks of maggots coming out spitting biological hatred at the Jewish people.
      The context of the news doesn't matter, the arguments are pointless ,they just wait for the opportunity to show their rotten theeth. Most of them have tremendous inferiority complex, some are victims of unsuccessful abortion or were dropped by their parents head down in early age, the list can go on and on.. Actualy, they farting thru their mouth.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Manny

      Kazan @ Jews attack and kill Christians and Muslims on daily basis........ history repeat itself!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • bns

      ARE YOU KIDDING ME "KAT"? Have you not heard of these suicide bombers blowing up elementary schools? HOW NAIVE ARE YOU PEOPLE???? Get a grip on the realities..you say you are a lover of freedom and democracy? Then how can you be on the wrong side???

      March 1, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  8. rr

    The opponent has agreed to move the time of the game. Moving the time of the game would not be impossible per Ed Burleson the director or TAPPS. Last year TAPP moved an Arlington soccer game to accommodate a similar request. The TAPP board’s position now is that they do not want to make the same mistake again. The school did not think this would ever become an issue when they first joined TAPPS. This is a school of 67 dedicated students. This not a case of an ineligible player or giving one team a game advantage, this is a few hours on a clock. The students understand their faith know their priorities, they will accept the final decision. Get real TAPP let the kids play ball they have earned it.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  9. Stu

    Before responding, learn how to write a sentence that makes sense.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  10. Moon

    Maybe they could play anyway and tape it for G_d to watch later. I mean that's the real problem isn't it? G_d rests and won't be able to watch the game?

    February 29, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Tom

      You are ridiculous. God doesn't use a VCR any more. IDIOT.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  11. Stu

    The comments made as a result of this story show the ignorance that so many people in this country and the world have. Many of the comments are stupid and simply exhibit the hate the is rampant..I'm surprised we haven't heard someone say that, "the Holocaust never happened". This is not a Christian or Jewish thing and the fact that the by-laws state no games on Sunday clearly can be revised if there was a true desire to do so. The team has asked that the playing time be switched so they can play for a spot they rightfully earned with their hard work and effort.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • EatYouAlive

      No, this is a more of a "religion is stupid' thing.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • New York

      Not only Jews died on the holocaust; so did millions of Christians and other non-Jews.
      Stop focusing on the jews only !!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • phelonius

      the team knew the rules. play by the rules or go home, easy choice. don't like the rules? join a different league. don't expect others to bend over backwards for your own self imposed restrictions.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  12. Jews causes problems


    February 29, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  13. Colin

    Not all of the team, but a few of them, will one day graduate from their Iron Age Middle eastern superst.itions. I pity these (smarter) kids more than the rest. At that point they will realize how inane it was to give up a fantastic opportunity for the supposed wishes of some hokey, non-existent sky-fairy.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • BEM684

      What is it about other people practicing their religion that makes you feel insecure?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • Dave

      Last I checked, every presidential candidate (and our current president) goes to church and has "iron-age" beliefs. Not saying its right or not – but lets not judge these people any stronger than our own elected representatives. Vote an athiest into office and then you can talk.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Josh

      Along with the dumb Christians and belief in their zombie god.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Moon

      You're have a problem with G_d's name, don't you? You're one of those Gnu Atheists, right?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Colin

      BAM684 – What about my pitying young kids who have been indocrinated with Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology makes you think I am insecure? Join those dots for me.

      Dave, I don't know how political succes equates with the veracity of supernatural beliefs. I gues the Hinuds must be right, because of all the successful politicians in India, right?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  14. Chad

    I very much admire this team sticking to their principles.

    well done guys

    February 29, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Colin

      Hey Chad, still believe the World was created in 6 days with one man, one woman, and a magic talking devil-snake?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Chad

      6 epochs, one man, one woman, didnt become a snake until it was cursed to crawl on it's belly following the fall (so no talking snake in the garden).

      February 29, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • Colin

      Well, that makes a lot more sense. Out of curiosity, what makes your mythology true and the 100s of other creation myths false?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • Colin

      So, were Adam and Eve's children incestuous?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • bns

      I hope those like Colin do go to hell like the goyim believe in

      March 1, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • DK

      Colin, the only thing that makes it true is Chad's belief. There's no proof, but there are a lot of things that can't be proven empirically (love and friendship come to mind).

      March 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  15. Thomas Henley

    Something tells me this team didn't have much of a chance to advance once in the playoffs, and a good time was had by all!

    February 29, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Monica

      African-Americans were originally introduced to the sport of basketball years after professional American associations were formed. They were chosen for diversity purposes, because there were "too many Jews in American sports." Seriously.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  16. humanone

    Orthodox before Athletics. Their choice. Shabbat Shalom.
    IMHO... G_d will be disappointed they never tried. He's a huge basketball fan.
    The Orthodox Jews and their laws are something out of a comedy movie. I lived and worked in Israel. The organizational things i had to do to accommodate one type of kosher vs another... it drove the secular Jews crazy as well. OY!

    February 29, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Jew Yorker

      Go make money and shut up.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • phelonius

      good point, i'm all for freedom of religion. i'm also for freedom to ignore other people's religion.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  17. phelonius

    i fully respect this school for withdrawing from the tournament (not that it's such an accomplishment considering that, as the article states, they were contractually obligated to do so). what i find pathetic and appalling is their stereotypical behavior of fully expecting everyone else to bend over backwards and "make special arrangements" for them. they signed on the dotted line, they knew the rules. no one asked them to join that conference. you made the choice, why should anyone make an exception for you?

    February 29, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • humanone

      That's what both Jews and Muslims do best... whine when they have the opportunity to and it usually falls on their holy schedule.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Monica

      "At the same time, the bylaws forbid games on Sunday, a nod to Christian Sabbath observance."

      Maybe they were seeking religious equality for their children?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • phelonius

      @Monica- they could have addressed that when they joined the league. no one forced them to join a league that celebrates a different holy day. why should anyone else be inconvenienced because of their own choices?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Dave

      They have accepted it. They're not crying about it. Chris (their non-Jewish coach) summed it up well already. Of course the kids hoped it could be held on a week night but they're not up in arms about this and not trying to force anyone to change.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Voiceofreason

      Because the same league changed a game time for a Seventh Day Adventist team not long ago. Moving the game up a couple of hours is no big deal. Also, the other teams advancing and the eventual champion should not be deprived of knowing they are the best and did not win by default.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  18. Xena

    Jews ♥ $ = True

    Just to let you know. Yeah Yeah call me ignorant... you're the ignorant person because you know it is true.
    Jews could do anything for just a penny....

    February 29, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Monica

      This is a stereotype that has been around since the Middle Ages, because Christians found it to be a sin to participate in usury (the loaning of money with interest.) Therefore, in Europe, most bankers and business partners were Jewish. Then Christians began selling souls, and everyone started killing each other again. History is fun, isn't it?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  19. Blessed Geek

    The Bible says the violation of Sabbath is stoning to death.

    I wonder why people pay more attention to gay marriage than Sabbath violation.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Laurence

      Which bible? The Jewish, the Atheist, the fake?

      Absolutely not true if you say about the Christian bible. It says 'God rested on the seventh day'. Don't get fooled by non-Christians about 'stoning people to death' !

      February 29, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • humanone

      I guess that's why gays party during the Sabbath... so the stone throwing moralists won't see them.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • Monica

      @Laurence- Whoever does any work on it [the Sabbath] must be put to death" (Exodus 35:2). A man was found gathering wood on a Sabbath day. "The Lord said to Moses, 'The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.' So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses" (Numbers 15:32-36).

      Just to remind you, the Christian Old Testament is the same as the Tanakh, or "Hebrew Bible." We all follow the same words, there. 🙂

      February 29, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  20. boston

    Rules may be rules but the only message I see coming from the TAPPS board is one of disrespect.

    It's a game... played by kids... let them play for God's sake.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • momoya

      Ummm ....it's for "god's sake" that they're refusing to play?????

      February 29, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Delboy

      I hope that all the teams in this league decline to play the championship game to protest this decision.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:29 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.