Texas Schools Tell Jews Play on Sabbath or Forfeit

February 28, 2012  

Freedom of religion in Texas – for Christians: No school basketball games on Sunday but Saturday game goes on despite Jewish protest.

Texas schools do not allow sports competition on the Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, but they have ruled against a Jewish school scheduled to play a semi-finals championship game in Dallas on the Jewish Sabbath.

Houston’s orthodox Beren Academy chose to forfeit the game instead of violating the Jewish Sabbath by playing what was supposed to be its first-ever game in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) state tournament.

Beren  asked TAPPS to reschedule the game from Friday night, after the Jewish Sabbath begins,  and allow it to play earlier in the day, but officials ruled angst the school.

The league is made up of mostly religious institutions, noted an opinion writer in the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise. The writer commented, “Unfortunately, religious freedom is a one-way street here in Texas.

Beren previously was able to reschedule two of its playoff games, to Saturday night, after the Jewish Sabbath ends, and to noon Friday, before it begins, but its appeal to change the starting time of the semi-finals was rejected.

TAPPS does not allow sports to be played on Sundays, the day Christians traditionally go to church. 

For Jews, the Sabbath is different. “Orthodox Jews take Saturday off, observing the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. And by “taking off,” they do nothing. No electricity, no opening, no closing, no nothing,” noted the Enterprise.

“The sacred mission will trump excellence in the secular world,” Rabbi Harry Sinoff, Beren’s head of school, told The New York Times Monday.

TAPPS argued that it told Beren officials years ago that their joining the organized games could make it problematic for them to play on the Jewish Sabbath.

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