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Texas league backs down, agrees to pre-Shabbat basketball start time

JTA

March 1, 2012 | 11:50 am

A Texas athletic league has reversed course and will reschedule tournament games that will enable a Jewish day school, the Robert M. Beren Academy of Houston, to compete.

The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, known as TAPPS, decided Thursday to reschedule a state boys’ basketball tournament semifinal so that the Beren Academy of Houston can compete without violating the Jewish Sabbath. The game, which had been scheduled for 9 p.m. Friday, instead will be played in the afternoon.

The decision came just hours after the announcement that the team captain, along with teammates and parents, had enlisted the support of a prominent Washington attorney and filed a lawsuit against TAPPS and the Mansfield Independent School District, whose facilities are hosting the semifinals and finals of the 2A tournament.

TAPPS had previously declined two appeals this week from Beren to reschedule the game, which was to feature the Modern Orthodox school against Dallas Covenant. The final was originally set for 2 p.m. Saturday, which also conflicts with the Sabbath.

“We are thankful to the TAPPS for ultimately making the right decision,” the school said in a statement Thursday. “The school administration and board was not involved in any legal action, and we regret that it took a lawsuit filed [by] parents to bring about this decision.”

TAPPS in a statement posted on its website Wednesday had said that when the Beren Academy met with the association’s board in 2009 to discuss membership, it was told that tournament games are scheduled on Friday and Saturday, and that the school’s athletic director said he “understood” and “did not see a problem.”

Beren’s plight made international headlines this week. The team, which with a 24-5 record is playing the best basketball in its history, had earned a spot in the state semifinals last week with a 27-point victory in the quarterfinals.

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