In the micro-age of Jeremy Lin, it is hard to fathom the attention paid to an Orthodox day school’s attempts to reschedule a schoolboy basketball game. But when organizers of a Texas tournament blocked the Houston-based Beren Academy from taking part in their playoffs, it made national news.
Beren knew going into the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools league that they might have a problem if they actually made the playoffs, which span Friday and Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. But where there’s a will there’s a way, and they hoped TAPPS would make an exception and allow a game to be rescheduled to avoid the conflict. Unfortunately, the will was not there. TAPPS said no, and it took the threat of a lawsuit for them to relent and let the Beren boys play. The team would eventually reach the finals before falling to Abilene Christian High School.
Reporting about TAPPS suggested a league that is happy to accommodate the beliefs of its Christian schools, but flummoxed when it comes to Jews and Muslims. We hope the publicity surrounding Beren will make officials everywhere do more to accommodate a range of beliefs and practices.
Of course, not every request can be accommodated. And that is an important lesson as well. Sometimes religious conviction entails sacrifices, large and small. Judaism has always been a counterculture, and its practitioners have drawn strength from living according to a rhythm all their own. Beren fought bravely for what is right, even as they prepared to accept the consequences of their principled stand.
As Beren guard Isaac Mirwis told JTA, “I am proud to be here. It’s more than just basketball. It’s about being true to who you are.”