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The Cowards of Denver

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The much vaunted freedom to be Jewish in the USA is not quite all it’s cracked up to be. It’s true that on a recent “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”, fully 75% of the audience knew that a long-winded explanation was “a megillah”, which shows to what extent Jewish concepts have been absorbed by American society. And in New York accommodating Jewish religious observances is the norm.

But this same level of acceptance isn’t found everywhere in the US, as this report filed by the Associated Press yesterday illustrates. Thanks to FI for bringing it to my attention! And congratulations to the boys of Herzl for doing so well until they were blocked by the fixers (let’s not call them anti-Semites–perhaps their kids were on the other side and they were just biased)!

DENVER (AP) Wednesday February 27th

The Herzl/Rocky Mountain Hebrew Academy team could be headed for a regional championship on Saturday, March 8, if it wins one more game. But the Denver team’s religious beliefs prohibit students from playing on the Jewish Sabbath between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday.

If Herzl/RMHA makes it to the regional championship and refuses to play a Saturday game, another school would be chosen to take its place, CHSAA commissioner Bill Reader said.

Earlier this month, the Colorado High School Activities Association, which governs sports and other high school activities, rejected the team’s request for a schedule change.

Senate President Peter Groff, D-Denver, said the CHSAA’s decision was ironic because it has a rule barring games from being played on Sunday for religious reasons.

3 thoughts on “The Cowards of Denver

  1. These sorts of things are getting increasingly ugly in the US. A high school in Delaware made a rule that they would not participate in Saturday sports competitions, a very noble sentiment … until one of the teams made the playoffs and the coach told the team that they couldn’t go “because of the Jews.” There was only one Jew on the team, and he wasn’t sabbath-observant anyway, but everyone in the school district blamed him. No one asked him if it was a problem for him, but he took the blame. His aunt, a friend of mine, took a lot of abuse from her (non-Jewish) husband’s family over this mess.

    Meanwhile, it is becoming increasingly common for states to hold their presidential primaries and caucuses on Saturdays. Nevada (caucus), South Carolina, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska (caucus), Washington (caucus), and Wyoming, all had Saturday primaries or caucuses. The caucuses are a particular slap in the face: with primaries, you can cast an absentee ballot before the election, but caucuses are more like town meetings, and you must be physically present to participate. Many of these caucuses were scheduled in the morning, during Shabbat services. Tuesday has been the traditional day for US elections, and no one has been able to elicit an explanation of why Saturday became so popular this year.

  2. Interesting. Really sorry to hear that your friend was made to suffer. It shows how much anti Semitism still lurks beneath the surface even in the United States.

    My question is whether what you describe with the Caucuses on Shabbat is symptomatic of a growing trend or is just ‘accidental’. In the protestant UK most sports fixtures are on Shabbat. In Catholic Italy they tend to be on Sunday. There are all sorts of different reasons, usually cultural rather than anything sinister. I guess Muslims are lucky that Friday is not a day for sports fixtures!!

  3. It starts out as accidental, a result of ignorance or simply not thinking. But once Jews or Jewish organizations point out the problem, it quickly becomes antisemitic. Jews are blamed for creating a problem when they assert their civil rights; the Jews are at fault, not the gentiles who violated their rights in the first place.

    Admittedly, most of the backlash I saw to the caucus situation was anti-religious rather than specifically anti-Jewish. The editorial web pages were full of comments to the effect that people who do the bidding of an imaginary friend [G-d] should not be allowed to vote anyway. But though the objection was phrased in generic anti-religious language, I doubt you would see that kind of comment if Christians were objecting to Maine’s Sunday caucus.

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