Northwestern emailed students Wednesday to confirm its decision to disaffiliate with Tannenbaum Chabad House and Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein almost a month after Klein alerted students of the decision on Yom Kippur, a Jewish High Holiday.
Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president for student affairs, wrote in the email that the Sept. 11 decision to disaffiliate resulted from “concerns about reported alcohol use and abuse” and a University investigation that found “excessive consumption of alcohol by students” at the Chabad House.
Though Klein told The Daily last month that alcohol was consumed at Chabad House, he maintained that he did not violate University policy.
“We’re not about alcohol,” Klein said to The Daily in September. “We’re about God. We’re about fellowship. We’re about faith, spirituality, joy and teaching.”
He explained he did not break any Illinois laws, which make an exception for serving alcohol to people under the age of 21 for religious purposes. However, the University alcohol policy in the student handbook does not make the same exception.
Following the University’s decision to disaffiliate, Lubavitch-Chabad of Illinois, acting on behalf of Klein and Chabad House, filed a discrimination complaint in federal district court against NU, Telles-Irvin and University Chaplain Timothy Stevens. The complaint was filed after Klein said the University failed to provide evidence that Chabad violated University policy. It argues that the University is discriminating against the Jewish faith by dismissing him without due process.
Telles-Irvin wrote in her email that the University did not alert the student body of the disaffiliation until Wednesday due to the ongoing litigation and Jewish holidays.
Many members of the NU community have spoken out against the University’s decision, citing Klein’s decades of service in the University community. The Facebook page “We Support Rabbi Klein and Chabad at Northwestern” had more than 400 likes as of Wednesday.
“As many of you know, the Tannenbaum Chabad House and Rabbi Klein have been a part of the University community for many years, and therefore, the decision to disaffiliate was not an easy one,” Telles-Irvin wrote.
— Cat Zakrzewski