Almost 500 people huddled together on Ingalls Mall last night. Hunched over pieces of newspaper in small circles, students and area residents cheered as the countdown began: “3, 2, 1, spin!”

Clif Reeder
A student spins a dreidel on Ingalls Mall last night as part of an attempt sponsored by the University of Michigan Hillel to break the world record for dreidels spun at once. The record, 602 dreidels, was set Wednesday at the University of Maryland at Col

Four hundred ninety people spun their dreidels.

But it was not enough. Their attempt to set a world record had failed.

The University of Michigan Hillel hosted a dreidel spin-off last night in hopes of breaking a Guinness World Record for the most dreidels spun at once.

Although the University fell short of the record – 602 dreidels, set on Wednesday by the University of Maryland at College Park – organizers put a positive spin on the event.

“I think it was a really great success,” said LSA junior Melissa Morof, who organized the spin-off. “I’m really happy with the way the event went.”

The University of Michigan joined the University of Maryland and Indiana University in attempts at breaking the world record this week. Before Maryland broke the record on Wednesday, Temple Emmanuel, a synagogue in Cherry Hill, N.J., set the record in 2005 by spinning 541 dreidels simultaneously.

The official Guinness World Records rules stipulate that each person may only spin one dreidel and the dreidels must spin simultaneously for 10 seconds.

To keep an official count for Guinness, Hillel volunteers registered people by number. Of the 490 participants, about 360 pre-registered online and about 130 registered on the spot.

After pinning pieces of paper to their shirts like marathon runners, participants were given complimentary dreidels. Morof said she brought 1,300 dreidels to the event.Almost 500 people huddled together on Ingalls Mall last night. Hunched over pieces of newspaper in small circles, students and area residents cheered as the countdown began: “3, 2, 1, spin!”

Four hundred ninety people spun their dreidels.

But it was not enough. Their attempt to set a world record had failed.

The University of Michigan Hillel hosted a dreidel spin-off last night in hopes of breaking a Guinness World Record for the most dreidels spun at once.

Although the University fell short of the record – 602 dreidels, set on Wednesday by the University of Maryland at College Park – organizers put a positive spin on the event.

“I think it was a really great success,” said LSA junior Melissa Morof, who organized the spin-off. “I’m really happy with the way the event went.”

The University of Michigan joined the University of Maryland and Indiana University in attempts at breaking the world record this week. Before Maryland broke the record on Wednesday, Temple Emmanuel, a synagogue in Cherry Hill, N.J., set the record in 2005 by spinning 541 dreidels simultaneously.

The official Guinness World Records rules stipulate that each person may only spin one dreidel and the dreidels must spin simultaneously for 10 seconds.

To keep an official count for Guinness, Hillel volunteers registered people by number. Of the 490 participants, about 360 pre-registered online and about 130 registered on the spot.

After pinning pieces of paper to their shirts like marathon runners, participants were given complimentary dreidels. Morof said she brought 1,300 dreidels to the event.The event was sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts. A kosher Dunkin’ Donuts shop in Oak Park, Mich. donated dozens of boxes of donuts for the event.

To advertise the event, Morof said she and other Hillel students put up flyers, e-mailed groups they interact with and called local synagogues to inform their members about the attempt.

Morof, who is the chair of major events and campus activities for Hillel’s Programming Board, said the event was aimed not only at setting the world record but also at celebrating Jewish culture and community during Hanukkah, which started Tuesday night. With the hype surrounding Christmas during this time of year, it’s good to have an event where people can learn about Jewish culture, she said.

“There’s so much anti-Semitism that it’s important to show your culture and traditions,” said Hannah Farkas, an LSA freshman.

Farkas said she and her friends came to the event to celebrate Chanukah and support the Jewish community.

Representatives of other campus organizations came out to join in the attempt. Dance Marathon, which works closely with Hillel, saw several participants come out. Morof said Dance Marathon dancers who participated in the event earned spirit points for their teams.

Indiana University’s Hillel made its third attempt to claim the dreidel-spinning title on Sunday. With 275 participants, the organization came up well shy of the record.

Andy Gitelson, the assistant director of Indiana’s Hillel chapter, said inclement weather – including torrential downpours – dissuaded many students from turning out.

Gitelson said he was excited, though, because the group can try against next year. He said the Indiana Hillel had made attempts in 2003 and 2004 with turnouts of 522 people and 498 people, respectively.

Gitelson said the event helps students from all backgrounds connect over the holidays. He said that hosting an open, all-campus event allows the group to teach college students about Chanukah and dispel many of the myths surrounding it.

Gitelson said he was encouraged by the friendly competition between the three universities.

“I think it’s awesome Michigan and Maryland are doing this, too,” he said.

Maryland claimed to have broken the record several years back before officially breaking the record on Wednesday. Guinness didn’t count their tally, though, because the group gave participants more than one dreidel each – a violation of the official Guinness guidelines. They also failed to file the appropriate paperwork.

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