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Court Rules Hoopsters Can Wear Yarmulkas on the Court

March 6, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Chicago region of the American Jewish Congress has won a temporary restraining order allowing two Jewish high school basketball teams to wear yarmulkas on the court, it was announced by David Kahn, president of the Chicago region. The order was handed down by Judge Milton Shadur of the U.S. District here.

The teams, from the Ida Crown Academy in Chicago and the Hebrew Theological College-Yeshiva High School in Skokie, challenged a rule of the Illinois High School Athletic Association (IHSA) that prohibits headwear (with the exception of headbands and bandages) during inter-scholastic basketball games. The suit was filed as a class action in the names of five students and the two Jewish schools against IHSA, and its executive director.

Judge Shadur based his decision on arguments by American Jewish Congress attorneys that the prohibition violated First and Fifth Amendment rights of the Orthodox Jewish basketball players. The AJCongress lawyers, David Grossberg, chairman of the American Jewish Congress’ Chicago Commission on Law and Social Action, and Sylvia Neal, legal counsel for AJCongress’ Chicago region, also submitted affidavits from high school and college coaches including an IHSA referee of 33 years refuting the Association’s argument that the yarmulkas might slip off and cause accidents.

The temporary restraining order allowed the two teams to participate in state tournment games this week. Both teams lost. After the outcome of the games, Judge Shadur decided to hold further hearings in early May on the legality of the Association’s rule. In the interim, the schools will petition the rules committee of the Illinois High School Athletic Association for a change in the regulation, with the assistance of the American Jewish Congress.

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