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. mmi16

    The sabbath is not GOD's law – it's made by man. If it was in fact GOD's law all religions would have the same. Religion is not of GOD – it is a control system devised by man. Nothing more and nothing less.

    March 1, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • HeavenSent

      mmi16, everyone abides in the sabbath. Even you. Except, you are clueless to it's meaning.


      March 1, 2012 at 1:39 am |
  2. Steve

    I thought schools were about teaching children to do the right thing. I guess I was wrong.

    March 1, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • Fr. Robert Ballecer, SJ

      It's good you acknowledge that you are wrong. Now that you admit you are wrong in this instance... perhaps you'll be open-minded enough to see that you could be wrong in others.

      March 1, 2012 at 1:47 am |
  3. Tr1Xen

    "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.

    I think they should. It's a shame they are unwilling to reschedule the game a few hours earlier.

    March 1, 2012 at 1:14 am |
  4. CBR

    Stories like this bring out the worst comments. It is not necessary to show bigotry over a story about a team which will not play on their Sabbath. Please note that games are not held on Sunday to allow observance of the Christian Sabbath. There seems to be a little problem with that.

    For those who wish to turn this into an opportunity to to talk about the Jews, please know that your entries only serve to make you look ridiculous. Try sticking to the topic.

    March 1, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • jerry5555

      Contrary to what Obama has repeatedly said, this country was founded on Christian beliefs. We are a Christian country that accepts all religions. If you ever take a look at this country's founding fathers' writings, you will see that there is no doubt that a vast majority of them are Christians asking Christ and God to bless this country. However, the jews will have you believe otherwise. Also, if you want to discuss tolerance of religion, why don't you also look at how jews in Israel tolerate other religions, or a lack thereof.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:34 am |
  5. Ariel

    It flows so true
    Mitzvot red white and blue
    Deep... in the heart of Texas

    Shabbat on queue
    Pass what is due
    Deep in the heart of Texas

    Stand in your boots
    Flag waving true
    Deep in the heart of Texas

    Unite the folk
    A global spoke
    Deep in the heart of Texas

    Love you Texas !!!!

    March 1, 2012 at 1:05 am |
  6. Aloha

    How is it fair that the school board caters to Christians (who, if they observe the bible like they claim they do, should be worshiping on the Jewish Sabbath as the bible dictates rather than the day of worship invented by the Catholic Church) and yet the school board won't cater to any other religion? How disgusting. Shame on the school board for conforming to Christian worship schedules and not Jewish (or other religions') worship schedules. But more so shame on Christians for knowing less about your holy book then I do. Did Jesus (an observing Jew) not say "I come not to destroy the law but to fulfill it"? If one look at His life as outlined in the new testament one can see he lived a sin-free life. If Jesus was telling the truth then Christians should observe all teachings and laws of God (including the seventh-day sabbath). Either Christians are in error by following tradition rather than their own holy book or the Savior was a liar (and thus committed a sin). You choose which one it is, but don't you Christians say you weren't warned.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:54 am |


      March 1, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • Tuad

      You raise some interesting points. You should be commended for knowing a lot about what you have chosen to reject. While I cant speak for their decision, although to move it a few hours seems logical, I would like to address the Sabbath. The Sabbath is indeed at the time the Jews say it is, but we believe that Christ fulfilled the old Law and now supercedes it. The decision to move it to Sunday was an intentional move long ago to display this difference. Christ did away with the old "Law" when he fulfilled its requirements. Indeed the purpose of the old Law was to point out that man could not keep the "Law" and would need a savior. Not one God fearing Jew could say they have kept the Law in it's entirety, the very intention of the "Law." Indeed no one can fully keep the new "Law" either, but Jesus intercedes for us taking our penalty of breaking the Law. FOR ALL HAVE SINNED. I hope you investigate further and stand unafraid to search for differences and ask more questions.

      March 1, 2012 at 1:47 am |
  7. Alex

    tards, grow up and join the real world... god probably doesn't care if u miss one sabbath.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      You know the mind of God? One of those Pat Robertson type of folks are yah'?

      Try to think of it as some times folks do things dictated by the tenants of their Faith. Other times we do things just because we feel that God or Gods will be pleased by our honoring him by or acts of Faith. In this case it is part of their Faith that they can not.

      I am not sure if you are a person of Faith or not Alex but in Faith sometimes you gotta admire kids with morals in todays world.

      March 1, 2012 at 1:12 am |
  8. reggolus

    move the time, let them play.... we're talking about high school basketball people. What's the difference. Side point: Yuri Foreman is the weakest "champ' I've ever seen fight... he's promoted solely on biographical grounds.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  9. Bebe

    I am not religious, but I respect what these basketball players are doing. They are practicing their faith. Not wearing it on their sleeves, but not willing to break faith with their traditions. I think this nine-member Christian board should accommodate this team. You see, if they don't, none of the other teams will know whether they legitimately won or not. Their behavior in the matter reminds of Mahatma Gandhi's famous remark: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    March 1, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Let me guess Bebe, you pulled the Gandhi quote off one of rag non-believers rag sites to show that you are spiritually dead as a door nob. My guess is this quote has been used at least 100 times in the past year by multiple handles used by the same people. I'd say that you non-believers don't practice original thinking as you parrot your teachers, professors, and now the other atheist straw dogs to get that "A".


      March 1, 2012 at 1:57 am |
  10. unretired05

    The Catholics are up in arms like a bunch of snarling dogs about paying insurance for non Catholics. These Jewish players show us all what the observance of religion really means.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • Blake

      Or show us the stupidity of dogmatic routines

      March 1, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  11. murray

    Notice how the Jews didn't claim victim status, cry bigotry and demand everything be reworked to suit their needs,, like certain other minorities would have done.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  12. jesse

    retards! how is a team looking like this in any kind of basketball playoff to begin with. they look like they suck anyway.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  13. Tom

    Their team, the Crucifiers, had a 8-2 record. Pretty good for a such a small school.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • reggolus

      Yeah man they Killed Christ Academy.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  14. Dan

    The amount of anti-Semitism on this board is just purely disgusting – yes it is straight-out anti-Semitism, not anti-Zionism anymore. I am no supporter of Israel's policies towards the Palestinians, and I would have no interest in skipping an important game for the Sabbath if I were them. Yet I respect their faith and their choice whether to play the game or to observe their holy day. Shame on you who demand respect yet give no respect to others.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • reggolus

      Dan I've always wanted an answer to this. WHy should I be pro semetic? The word is tossed around so much, you know it makes non jews laugh inside. You're people are KICKING ASS in this country. I don't get it?

      March 1, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  15. Bremen

    I am not a religious person at all. However in the Christian Bible it talks about how the Jews will constantly be persecuted.
    By the comments on this forum, the hate for Israel, the Holocaust and everything before, this is one prophecy I believe to be true.
    This is coming from a non-believer lol.
    Jews are no different than any other human, did you all know that Jews share 99% of the same DNA as the rest of you?
    It's true, so realistically, everyone in the world are very much like Jews and yet many are still prejudice.
    Human beings can be so ignorant, arrogant and ridiculous. It is a wonder we survived this long with the way we treat each other then make up excuses as to why it's okay.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Juan Carlos

      Actually, they share 100% of their DNA with you. Think about it. 2,000 years ago, a Jew by the name of Jesus lived and died...and the people who later on chose to follow his teachings were no different than anyone else. It's not a matter of a little different - it is exactly the same "race" of people, no different than the DNA between someone who likes chocolate ice cream and someone who likes vanilla.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:30 am |
  16. shaleefa

    Just move the game to 730pm on saturday and they all can play. Who cares? That's a normal time for a game anyway.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  17. Snete

    Religions are so stupid, I just can't stand it anymore.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Mike

      So, what do you got?

      March 1, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • Samb499

      If you can't stand it...why are you on a Religious Blog?
      kinda like a vegetarian living in the Artic

      March 1, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  18. Jdubs

    I wonder how many Jews that believe Israel is their birthright would be willing to give back any American land they own to Native Americans?

    March 1, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • beth

      Only if you will give back any land you own . . .

      March 1, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • reggolus

      beth we don't own anything, our jewish landlords do.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Hey dubby, can we get past what your teacher is explaining to you in the classroom and move on to the issue at hand?


      March 1, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Jdubs1211

      Dubby.. I like that...I don't know if this team has a history of being good enough to make the playoffs or if this is one of their first years breaking out.. but this is an issue that should have been ironed out at the time they agreed to the league rules prior to the season

      March 1, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  19. Korean

    To all Jews: SHUT the F UP!

    March 1, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Samb499

      yeah I agree...let the Korean speak...go ahead...say something in Russian

      March 1, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • gerry

      To all Koreans; Where did you find this guy? What a delightful country and culture. I can't say I ever met a Korean bigot. Are they only on the internet?

      March 1, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • beth

      I'm fairly sure a number of people posting here are not Jewish . . .the league doesn't play on Sunday because of Christians . . .showing respect to another religion would be the true spirit of Jesus (oh, wait, Jesus is a Jew – let's don't follow his lead)

      March 1, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  20. -

    jews (Not worth being capitalized with big 'J') are the most RACIST and DISGUSTING people in this planet! No wonder why Hi**** tried to wipe their ásses away!

    February 29, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Samb499

      I guess your name refers to the amount of brain power you have...just a dash...
      Hi**** may have tried, but looks who is left standing. You are welcome to join him though

      March 1, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • gerry

      but you capitalized "racist" and "disgusting." Very telling. Can anyone tell me if "bigot" is a proper noun?

      March 1, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Dan

      Calling an entire ethnicity racist, who is the racist here? Rooting for the extermination of an entire people, who is the disgusting one here?

      March 1, 2012 at 12:24 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.