Jewish School Decides Against Playing in State Semifinals Because of Sabbath

Imagine your high school basketball team winning its regional championship to advance to the state semifinals in Dallas, Texas. The kids, coaches, parents, school and community are in a tizzy about how well the basketball team is playing.

The Robert M. Beren Academy, an Orthodox Jewish day school in Houston, has their opportunity to play in the state semifinals on Friday. There is just one problem: Sabbath.

Jewish Sabbath is a weekly day of rest that begins sundown on Friday until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night.

So what do they do? The answer is simple: Don’t attend the trip and forfeit the contest.

“The sacred mission will trump excellence in the secular world,” Rabbi Harry Sinoff, Beren’s head of school, said Monday in a telephone interview, according to Mary Pilon of the New York Times.

How about attempting to reschedule the game to another date?

It’s not going to happen because the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools denied the appeal for the game.

“When Beren’s joined years ago, we advised them that the Sabbath would present them with a problem with the finals,” Edd Burleson, the director of the association said.

The rules of the association have been firm and continuous every year.

“If we solve one problem, we create another problem. If the schools are just going to arrange their own schedule, why do we even set a tournament?” Burleson said. “Over a period of time, our state tournament, which is a highlight of our association, deteriorates to nothing. That’s the whole point of having an organization.”

It seems like a situation that Robert M. Beren Academy, who was 23-5 on the season, could have prevented years ago.

This would have been the school’s first trip to the state semifinals.