U.S. Report

With 535 dreidels going at once, students at the University of Maryland set a world record Dec. 7 for the most dreidels spinning simultaneously.

The previous mark in the Guinness Book of World Records was 289 dreidels, according to the university newspaper.

One hundred twenty-five people took part in the record-breaking spin. In addition, several judges were on hand to make sure that the spins were fair, and many reporters from local newspapers, such as the Washington Post, were there to witness the event.

"We wanted to have an event for Chanukah, but the holiday is during winter break," said Ahud Sela, organizer of the event and Jewish Campus Service Corps fellow at Hillel. "And when spinning dreidels came to my mind, I thought, maybe there's a record for dreidel spinning, and indeed there was. Guinness informed me on how to set the record."

Attorneys signing up to reform Holy Land

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — The Israel Religious Action Center is looking for American lawyers willing to lend their civil rights expertise to the new Attorneys for Religious Freedom in Israel.

The executive director of IRAC, Rabbi Uri Regev, who is also a lawyer, made the pitch on a visit to Los Angeles during a three-week speaking tour of the United States and Canada. As the social justice arm of Reform Judaism in Israel, IRAC is at the forefront of the fight for religious pluralism in Israel, a struggle that has kept Regev and his organization in the news often during the past decade.

Some 50 speeches in nine American and Canadian cities have not diminished Regev's intensity during an interview, nor his concern for diaspora support in his fight against the "unholy alliance of religion and state" in Israel.

One of the American lawyers who has signed on is Lawrence Schulner of Camarillo.

"Israel may not be able to completely separate religion and state, but there should at least be equality for all religions, including all streams of Judaism," he added.

Despite the Reform movement's struggles in Israel, Regev is upbeat about the movement's progress, citing the presence of 25 congregations, 15 nursery schools, two major educational centers, and increasing impact on the curricula of public schools.

Census study delayed by reluctant Jews

NEW YORK (JTA) — A population study of American Jewry is expected to take longer and cost more than originally anticipated.

The National Jewish Population Survey, which is sponsored by the United Jewish Communities and began fieldwork in August after a seven-month delay, is having difficulty finding enough Jewish households willing to be interviewed.

UJC officials now expect the 5,000 interviews to be completed by late spring of 2001, instead of at the end of this month. They also say they do not know how much the study, originally budgeted at $5 million, will cost.

Yeshiva van attack listed as terrorist act

NEW YORK (JTA) — U.S. Jewish leaders welcomed the U.S. Justice Department's decision that a 1994 attack on a New York van carrying yeshiva students was an act of terrorism.

"It is essential that an act such as this be addressed to prevent the spread of terrorism in our country," the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement.

The machine gun attack on a ramp of the Brooklyn Bridge led to the death of Ari Halberstam and the wounding of fellow student Nachum Sosonkin.

The attacker, a Lebanese man named Rashid Baz, was sentenced to 141 years in prison.