Playoff game rescheduled for Jewish basketball team that refused to play on Sabbath
The Beren Stars will play their playoff game on Friday afternoon, before the Jewish Sabbath begins.
March 1st, 2012
03:08 PM ET

Playoff game rescheduled for Jewish basketball team that refused to play on Sabbath

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) – A Jewish high school basketball team that had opted out of a shot at a Texas state championship because it refused to play on the Sabbath will now get that shot, after a playoff game was rescheduled on Thursday.

The game, initially set for Friday night, after the Jewish Sabbath begins, has been rescheduled for Friday afternoon, Houston’s Robert M. Beren Academy announced Thursday.

The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) made the scheduling change after parents threatened a lawsuit, the Orthodox Jewish private school said in a statement.

TAPPS director Edd Burleson said the league was presented with a temporary restraining order parents of the players intended to file if the game time was not changed.
"Our board had predetermined if a restraining order came down, we would comply with it," Burleson told CNN.

The decision allows the Beren Stars “to play this Friday without violating our Sabbath,” the school’s statement said. “We are thankful to the TAPPS for ultimately making the right decision.”

Burleson also said the league would be able to accommodate Beren Academy should they advance to the finals by scheduling the championship game on Saturday after 8pm.

"I don't know it's sunk in yet, we're excited,” Beren coach Chris Cole said.  “This is something we've obviously been fighting for. This isn't the way we wanted it to happen. We were hoping TAPPS would accommodate us in a way that was willing," as opposed to the threat of a lawsuit, he said.

Cole said his team was thrilled to able to play. "They're kids, there is great excitement," he said, noting the texts were pouring in from his team.

Cole, a Christian who attends a nondenominational church, has coached the team for 10 years in addition to teaching physical education at the school. He said observance of the Sabbath is key for the school and the team.

"Just being a modern Orthodox Jewish school, it's important."

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"The Sabbath is a time for prayer and work. Although we play basketball and do our best, we know that it’s not the time for games," he said. "It was never a possibility that we would just skip the Sabbath and just play the game," the coach said. "It just wasn't going to happen."

Until Thursday’s announcement, the Stars were planning on sitting out the Friday night game. The 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," Cole told CNN Houston affiliate KPRC earlier this week.

"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.

"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 school said in a statement earlier in the week. “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 an earlier time on Friday.

School officials had 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.

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.

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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."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Judaism • Sports • Texas

soundoff (298 Responses)
  1. HDC-HS700k Information

    Just want to say your article is as amazing. The clearness for your put up is just nice and i can think you are a professional in this subject. Well together with your permission allow me to grasp your RSS feed to keep up to date with imminent post. Thanks a million and please continue the enjoyable work.

    April 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  2. b4bigbang


    March 12, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  3. miss frankel

    hello they can do whatever they want

    March 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  4. cnn

    they have a right

    March 4, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 3, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  6. Iqbal Khan


    March 2, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  7. Hello

    its not a PUBLIC school issue anyway.. so it is really no big deal... if they made these demands in public schools that would be different...

    March 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  8. Hello

    the planet is round... that means the Jewish sabbath is a lot longer than they say. somewhere on the planet it is the Sabbath for a 48 hr period.. so is this Sabbath on GMT time? if they play in PA.on Thursday would it not be the Sabbath on earth on the planet in Europe? Perhaps they need to wait till Tuesday... so they can make sure god is not on the wrong side of the planet. when they play.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Adam Kratt

      Sabbath observance is based on your location. Shabbat begins and ends at a different time depending where you are.

      March 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  9. Jon

    That's funny that they threatened a lawsuit, considering yesterday the team took so much pride in their religious beliefs and said they would miss the game due to that (which they should). But if you're missing for the Sabbath, don't threaten a lawsuit... that makes me think you really don't care too much about your religious practices at all. Have some class, make a decision (either is fine), but don't threaten a lawsuit over this...esp. when you took so much pride in this decision. Get a grip

    March 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Hello

      yeah they were really hoping to cash in.. a big disappointment .. I'm sure

      March 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Adam Kratt

      Being observant Jews they should not be punished. They earned their position in the semi-finals. The lawsuit was NOT about financial gain it was about requiring the league to allow students to participate in a game they had earned being in. The very fact that the league limits play on Sunday in submission to their Christian members makes it only fair that they would make accommodation for Jewish members who want to remain truthful to their faith. Had the league continued in their biased act, the Jewish high school would not have played. It is to bad you do not understand the principle of this issue, of course from your position you would probably just disregard your traditions and religious practices and play anyways. Jews have a higher moral standard then you do.

      March 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  10. ghittsum

    I can't tell you how many wrestling matches I missed when I was in highschool. Coach hated me for it, but I was his 119 lbs. All to observe the Sabbath. I am surprised they caved in. Nobody respected my beliefs when I was going through that. Nor did I expect it.

    March 2, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  11. ukrjew

    to jay1234: American first interest was, is and will be Arab Oil. That why America fights wars in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, but not for Israel.

    March 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Ryan Lee

      This is why us and Israel split the country of Sudan to north and south and put our hands on the oil fields in the south. We are greedy as Israel and this is why we lost the respect of the world since the Iraq war. We lie and kill to steal but we call it democracy!!! B.S.

      March 2, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  12. Andy H

    Sad that people still believe in invisible things, carry out rituals, and have rules that compare to the inquisition. Lawsuit, these idiots are no better then most of our prison population. What a bunch of nut jobs...lol

    March 2, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Technical Vault

      Invisible things like patriotism, rituals like pledging allegiance to the flag and inquisitorial rules like the DHS has about boarding planes? One man's crazy is anothers life. It's the way we're all wired, you probably have little meaningless rituals you don't even realise you do.

      March 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  13. NaySay

    It took the threat of lawsuit for this Texas group to cave. About what you'd expect from this stiff-necked and intolerant part of the world. It's just a ball game, for Chrissakes.

    March 2, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  14. VA_Jill

    My understanding is that the team's scheduled opponent said they would also refuse to show up if the game was not rescheduled. Texas showing some class, what? Of course these are "elitist" private schools.

    March 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Hello

      when a muzzy wants to stop the game to pray... then what?
      They will have to oblige... of course..
      remember with all the gods and religions we have on this planet every day and time is someones holy time.. it will put a stand still to all human activity if we have to stop to accommodate each and every one of them.

      ahhh the Age of Mythic Stupidity.. we created insane dogma to drive is all insane ...

      March 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  15. justsayin'

    Too bad us gentiles don't honor our sabbath with at least half that zeal.

    March 2, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  16. Truth

    Khazars playing basketballl now Ive seen everything. Imma post this.Isaiah 29:22
    King James Version (KJV)
    22Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his FACE now wax PALE.

    March 2, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  17. Joshua

    the sabbath is for eternity. psalms 111&119.

    March 2, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  18. Jon in Balto.

    It is too bad that it got down to threatening a lawsuit to get this resolved in a fair and equitable manner. Neither side in that part of this controversy won. The league lost because had they not reversed the decision, the lawsuit would have materialized and the complainants lost because in the eye of many of the posters to this thread, they have reinforced their opinion of Jewish dtereotypes. The whole things, for everyone involved was a tragedy (albeit not on the scale of major tragedies). The TAPPS Board should have just said yes tot he request and not force an action which would foster a stereotype.

    Just a BTW – if you read the story, the team was ready to forfeit based on on their beliefs and it was the parents of the community, not the school nor specifically the parents of the kids, who threatened the lawsuit. The only party in this who has a high moral ground to stand on are the team and their non-Jewish coach, who knew what is really important in living a moral life.

    March 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  19. Shabbat Shayndel

    The article should have read that the Sabbath is a time for prayer and NO work. It's our day of rest.

    (NOT "The Sabbath is a time for prayer and work.")

    Shabbat Shalom to all who participate!

    March 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  20. ukrjew

    to Frank Jacson: 50 “peace loving, innocent and helpless” Muslim states with total population of 1.5 Billion are oppressed by one “ terrorist” state; state of Israel!!?? 20 mil Jews oppressed whole World!!??

    March 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Frank Jackson

      I'm not surprised since Arabs are sold weapons from junkyard that we don't need and Russia and the rest are selling the same thing to Arabs so Israel can bully the Arabs.

      March 2, 2012 at 1:11 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.