Victory for Jewish basketball team over Shabbat game

By Jennifer Lipman, March 2, 2012

A Jewish basketball team will be playing for a place in a tournament final after organisers relented and changed the date of the semi-final game so it does not fall on Shabbat.

The Orthodox Jewish Robert M Beren Academy in Houston, Texas, faced the prospect of having to forfeit the competition because organisers initially refused to move the game from its Friday night slot, despite an appeal by the school. No Jewish team has ever won the state basketball contest.

The story of the intransigence of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools made headlines around the world, but the association remained firm that "if schedules [were] changed for these schools, it's hard for other schools".

Earlier this week parents of the Beren team members began legal action against the association, asking for a temporary restraining order to stop the contest from going ahead without the team. The lawsuit claimed that the team was "being denied, solely on account of their religious observance, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete."

In response, the association's director Edd Burleson agreed that the match should be moved to a 2pm start, allowing the team to get home in time for Shabbat.

Lawyer Nathan Levin said the lawsuit was the deciding factor. "If we got to court there was no judge in the world who would uphold TAPPS," he said.

Last updated: 11:41am, March 2 2012