Bintel Blog

While Columbia Students Stormed Buildings, at Y.U. They Just Wanted To Play Some Coed Volleyball

By Daniel Treiman

  • Print
  • Share Share

New York Jewish Week editor Gary Rosenblatt looks back on the tumultuous spring of 1968 — from the vantage point of a not-too-radical student at a not-too-radical college campus. While his peers at Columbia were busy occupying buildings, Rosenblatt and his fellow Yeshiva University students were engaged in some mischievous — if decidedly less political — rebellion of their own:

Despite the fewer than 60 blocks that separated them, the Columbia and YU campuses were really light years apart. One was at the cutting edge of revolution; one was framed by Talmudic study steeped in disputes of centuries past.

So the edginess of the times, compounded by final exams, played out in a major water fight in the main dorm one spring night at YU, with scores of students in their swim trunks heaving large cans of water on each other, and sometimes out the window onto Amsterdam Avenue.

Soon, the fire department arrived, with firemen wading through the puddles in the dorm halls, axes at the ready, responding to calls from neighbors. Surveying the scene, though, they were good-natured about the mess and didn’t stay long.

Hours later, well after midnight, two student activists from Columbia’s SDS chapter appeared at my dorm room. SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) was the radical group behind the Columbia protests, and it seems they had received notice that, in their memorable words to my roommate and me, “Yeshiva was being liberated.”

They said they were there to help us plan a takeover of the president’s office.

Too embarrassed to explain that the commotion at YU was a water fight, not a student protest — and that any prospective rebellion at YU would have been quelled by a rabbinic scholar announcing that such acts were halachically not permissible, or just not right — we listened as they urged us to secure maps of the administrative buildings and fortify ourselves for a long stay.

We nodded, scribbled notes, thanked them for their advice, and finally were rid of them, raising our fists to meet theirs in solidarity.

Then we had a good laugh before going back to sleep in preparation for another day of Talmud study and exams.

But wild water fights weren’t the sum total of Rosenblatt’s youthful rebellion. He goes on to describe a guerrilla volleyball game with some female students from Stern College that drew a pretty stern police response.

Read the full article.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Columbia University, Yeshiva University, 1960s, Gary Rosenblatt

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.