web analytics
April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Playing For A Higher Authority: The Inside Story Of Beren Hoopsters’ Kiddush Hashem

Front-Page-030912

Share Button

* * * * *

In our draft complaint we naturally listed the Beren Academy as the first plaintiff, and followed it with the names of team members and parents. I was, however, shocked to discover that the school not only did not agree to be a named plaintiff but that its administration and board members were discouraging parents and team members from joining in any lawsuit on the ground that litigation was “inflammatory.” The goal of obtaining a court order directing religious accommodation was, to my surprise, actively and vigorously opposed by the school administration. (The Maimonides experience had been eerily similar.) Parents indicated to us that they were urged to withdraw their names, and the names of children who were team members, from the court pleadings.

This, I was told, was the “high road” – to accept the ruling that the team had willingly surrendered its right to participate in the semifinals in order to demonstrate to the students on the Beren basketball team and to the world the sacrifice that has to be made for Shemirat Shabbat. The school made it clear in its post-litigation press release that it disapproved of the lawsuit and had refused to join it as a plaintiff. Richard Rohan and I were even warned on Wednesday night that if we filed a lawsuit on Thursday and it succeeded, the school would direct the students not to play and would, on its own, declare that it was “forfeiting” the semifinal match.

That approach directly conflicts with the efforts I have made over the past four decades to have American law compel accommodation to religious Jewish observance. Yiddishkeit in America is, in my view, furthered if life is made easier for Shomrei Shabbos. Sacrifices for Sabbath observance will have to be made during the life of any Torah-observant Jew living in the modern world, but that lesson is neither learned nor appreciated by making high school students swallow, with no court protest, bigoted acts directed at Shomrei Shabbos. While I do not doubt the good faith of the Beren administration, I seriously question its judgment if it is teaching its students to suffer prejudice and not stand up for their rights.

This opposition continued late into Wednesday night, and a prominent Modern Orthodox rabbi called me on Thursday morning to request that I delay the lawsuit until Friday. When I turned him down, he asked for a message to be conveyed to the board. I replied that the school should join the lawsuit as a plaintiff. Fortified by compelling e-mails we received in the wee hours from one student who explained why he wanted to remain a plaintiff and from team captain Isaac Mirwis, we filed the complaint and request for an injunction on behalf of three team members and three parents early on Thursday morning.

Less than two hours after they notified Burleson that we had filed the case, the Carrington lawyers learned that Burleson called the coach of the Beren team to notify him that the school was reinstated for the semifinal match, and that the game would be played early on Friday. After more discussions with the TAPPS lawyer, in which federal district judge David C. Godbey participated, the case was settled with rescheduled times to accommodate Shabbos observance. Interviews Burleson gave after the case was resolved indicated he had no intention of ever relenting to public pressure, but that he feared a lawsuit.

Beren handily won its semifinal match, played at 2 p.m. CST on Friday, March 2, in Fort Worth, Texas, cheered on not only by its own supporters but also by administrators and students from the Seventh-Day Adventist school that had been denied religious accommodation in the past.

The state championship game was rescheduled to 8 p.m. on Saturday night, March 3. Battling back valiantly from an early deficit, the Beren team fought to within 4 points, losing 46-42. The winners’ trophy went to their opponents, but the Beren team won a glorious triumph over bigotry and adversity. An Orthodox Jewish high school basketball team reached the peak of Texas basketball competition without sacrificing religious commitment. The young men of Beren turned their skills and their prominence into a Kiddush Hashem that will live with them for all their lives and will smooth the road for other Shomrei Shabbos.

The fortitude and integrity of the Beren Stars brings to mind Mordechai’s observation to Queen Esther: “Mi yodeah im la’es ka’zos higa’at la’malchus?” – “Could it be that it was for this moment you reached greatness?”

Nathan Lewin is a Washington attorney who has appeared before the Supreme Court in behalf of many Orthodox causes.

Share Button

About the Author: Nathan Lewin is a Washington, D.C. lawyer who has argued numerous cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and teaches a seminar in Supreme Court litigation at Columbia Law School.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Playing For A Higher Authority: The Inside Story Of Beren Hoopsters’ Kiddush Hashem”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ukraine Shul Firebombed
Ukrainian Synagogue Firebombed (Video)
Latest Indepth Stories
Imam Suhail Webb who boasted his Muslim community persuaded Brandeis President Fred Lawrence to withdraw an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

At Brandeis, much of what counts as Western civilization got cold feet and won’t stand with Hirsi Ali.

Text of anti-Semitic flyer distributed to Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine on Passover 2014.

But the lesson from this meditation is that hidden behind the anti-semitic act is the greatest light.

Yossi Klein HaLevi

As support of their messianic dream, Halevi and Antepli approve dishonoring Hirsi Ali as a ‘renegade.’

matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

More Articles from Nathan Lewin
Pesach matza cover

Federal and local laws protect your right to workplace accommodations for your religious observance.

pope

The inauguration of an American president has, since 1937, always begun with an invocation by a clergyman

The late Israeli Supreme Court judge Menachem Elon, was a pioneer of Jewish and Israeli law.

On Tuesday, February 28, it was widely reported that the basketball team of Houston’s Robert M. Beren Academy had “forfeited” its place in the semi-finals of the tournament conducted by the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) because it would not play on Friday night and Saturday. But a headline in Friday’s New York Times read: “In Reversal, a Jewish School Gets to Play.”

On August 9, 2001, Ahlam Tamimi, a member of Hamas, drove a suicide bomber to the Sbarro restaurant in the heart of Jerusalem, where the bomber blew himself up, killing 15 people including Judy Greenbaum, an American citizen from New Jersey.

Editor’s Note: On July 30, the firm of Lewin & Lewin, LLP, filed in the Supreme Court its brief in Zivotofsky v. Clinton, No. 10-699, on which the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in early November. The constitutional issue in the case is whether Congress had the authority to enact a law in 2002 that directs the Secretary of State to permit U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to record their place of birth in their passports as “Israel.” Because the State Department has consistently refused to recognize any part of Jerusalem as being in Israel, the government has refused to implement the 2002 law, claiming it violates the President’s constitutional authority to “recognize foreign sovereigns.” This is the Introduction to the Zivotofsky brief written by Nathan Lewin, followed by a Summary of Argument.

Congress has never seen a better friend of the observant Jewish community than Stephen Solarz, who died of esophageal cancer on the 22nd of Kislev. Yonoson Rosenblum’s recently published biography of Rabbi Moshe Sherer describes Solarz as an “invaluable ally” for many Agudath Israel projects and there are 20 references to Solarz in the book’s index.

A front-page story in The New York Timesof July 10 reported that federal immigration authorities in the Obama administration have adopted a “new strategy” to replace the military-style raids that were conducted in the Bush years to find and arrest illegal aliens.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/playing-for-a-higher-authority-the-inside-story-of-beren-hoopsters-kiddush-hashem/2012/03/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: