Robert M. Beren Hebrew Academy’s basketball team won its regional championships to advance to a semifinal game in Dallas, scheduled for Friday at 9.m. The Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday evening and ends at nightfall on Saturday, and the team strictly observes it.
The Houston-based team asked the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, or Tapps, to change the time of the game. The association’s executive board voted unanimously against it. Beren Academy was informed on Monday that another team — the one it defeated — would advance in its place.
On Thursday, Beren players sued Tapps, saying the association’s refusal to move the game violates the players’ Constitutional right to the free exercise of their religion, as well as a state anti-religious discrimination law. It seems to have worked.
Tapps director Edd Burleson told Law Blog that the game will be rescheduled for Friday mid-afternoon, and that if the team advances, the next game will be after 8 p.m. on Saturday, as the Beren had requested….
Alyza Lewin of D.C.-based Lewin & Lewin, who represents the Beren players, said there was some resistance in the Jewish community to bringing the lawsuit.
“There’s nothing derogatory about going to court to enforce your rights, and here that seems to be what finally worked,” she said, noting that Tapps had resisted public appeals and political pressure to change the time of the game. “We’re grateful for the result.”