The Great Valley U. Dreydel Bust

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men, campus police at the California State University, Northridge might well ask, especially if these men spin a little top engraved with oddly-shaped letters. The result of the lawmen's unflagging vigilance is described by Bonnie Classman, managing editor of the campus newspaper, The Daily Sundial.

A Rabbi and two students were detained by campus police Wednesday for playing a ritual Jewish game in the cafeteria.
Shabbat House Rabbi Shiomo Schwartz and students David Striks and Sidney Kass were playing dreydel when two uniformed police officers and one plain-clothes man confiscated the "dreydel" pennies on the table used in the game and took them outside.

Rabbi Schwartz said when they asked what the charges were, one of the officers replied they had gotten -a call about gambling.

"When I realized it was becoming serious, I began to explain the religious significance of our ritual game." Rabbi Schwartz said.

"I told him under the Greek occupation of Israel, when Bible study was prohibited, the Rabbis devised educational devices in the form of games so as not to attract attention to themselves.

"And today we continue to play the game during Chanukah to remember the prohibition of religious freedom in the past," Rabbi Schwartz added.

The campus police took their identification and according to Striks replied "you could tell me anything about that gismo, for all I know."

Richard Holoff, a student who witnessed the incident, commented that the situation "looked like a formal bust, a narcotics arrest. No one realized it was for playing dreydel.'

The officers gave them back their identification, the "dreydel" and the pennies and left without taking any further action, Rabbi Schwartz said
Lt. Donald Yelverton, campus police officer said, "we received a phone call about people gambling in the cafeteria. The individual did not know the nature of the game."

Yelverton said no further action would be taken by campus police.

(Source: Heritage, Southwest Jewish Press, Friday, Dec. 15, 1972.)

Rabbi Shlomo Cunin gives a class at Chabad of U.C.L.A.