Moshe Rapps and his teammates from Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC) won the 2005 New Jersey State Mock Trial championship, but their celebration was short-lived. "We were on such a high," Moshe told BABAGANEWZ, "until we learned that we couldn't compete for the national title because the finals were to be held during Shabbat. We [a Shabbat observant team] felt like we had been slammed back to earth." After working all year on a pretend case, they were eager to argue against a real injustice and fought for a schedule change.
Richard Taylor, president of North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, supported the students' position. Furious that students were being forced to "choose between their religious faith and participation in the National Mock Trial competition," he warned that if TABC was not accommodated, his organization would refuse to host national competitions in the future. "This is fundamentally a question of fairness and values," he explained.
The verdict from the National Board-that the team could compete before Shabbat-pleased the competitors, even though their scores did not. Nonetheless, they earned respect and admiration with their principled stand for religious justice.