Goodman: Klein deserves support of NU students of all religions


I promised my readers a column that focused on sports issues, and I pledge that this piece has a connection to sports — the Chicago White Sox. Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein of Northwestern’s Tannenbaum Chabad House donated a pair of premium behind-home-plate White Sox tickets to my sorority’s philanthropy event this past spring quarter. I would have never suspected that a couple of baseball tickets would give me insight into the greatness of Rabbi Klein.

I had not talked to Rabbi Klein more than a few times and I did not know what to expect when I asked him for the tickets. The Rabbi said he had a favor to ask of me in return for the tickets, and I was wondering what on earth this favor would entail. I was surprised when the Rabbi explained that he was the senior Evanston police chaplain and wanted me to find someone to play taps on trumpet for a police ceremony. The Rabbi then promptly handed me a $10 bill and bought my allotment of raffle tickets without me even asking.

This is one of the many examples of the Rabbi’s selflessness and determination to help others. At Northwestern, Rabbi Klein created the campus kosher meal program, serves as an adviser to the Alpha Epsilon Pi  fraternity and is a faculty fellow for the Communications Residential College (CRC). He makes countless students feel welcome through programming and weekly Shabbat dinners at the Chabad house. Rabbi’s founding and dedication to the Evanston police chaplaincy is extraordinary, as this organization that regularly assists Evanston police officers and residents affected by crimes.

I was shocked when I received a lengthy email from Rabbi Klein the day of Yom Kippur (the holiest Jewish holiday of the year) that described Rabbi’s struggle against the university. In summary, the Rabbi was asked by the new vice president of student affairs to resign from Chabad or “sever his ties with the university for allegedly violating university policy on alcohol consumption.”

The Rabbi served limited amounts of alcohol to celebrate Shabbat, a weekly Jewish ceremony, under an Illinois state law that allows people under the age of 21 to consume alcohol for “religious ceremonies.” He also made sure that if students were drinking they were safe and responsible. A Rabbi would not defame a house of worship such as the Northwestern Chabad house with underage drinking for no specific purpose.

As a Reform Jewish female, I never imagined myself going into a Chabad house, much less feeling comfortable there and enjoying myself.  I had an image of Chabad growing up that included Orthodox men praying and socializing and women being forced into a corner of the house. Maybe other Chabad houses are like that, but Rabbi Klein makes everyone feel welcome at Chabad, whether they are very observant Orthodox Jews or even non-Jews.

Because Rabbi Klein contributes so positively to our campus and the Evanston community, students should join together to support Chabad. Currently, Chabad is not a University-sponsored organization, but it still thrives and offers a welcoming environment to students of all backgrounds. Northwestern students should join in advocating for the University to reestablish its recognition of Chabad so that more students are able to enjoy the positive influence of Rabbi Klein.

Meredith Goodman is a Weinberg sophomore. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, email a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].