Dear President Schapiro:
What a delight it was to welcome you to Northwestern as president! Your pedigreed liberal arts background at Williams College, your open and embracing attitude toward the campus and your standing as the first truly identified Jew serving in a high capacity at a school that once had a quota for our kind made you a beacon for the University.
When we learned of the arbitrary and harsh decision to dismiss Rabbi Klein and the Chabad House from the campus community, we were doubly shocked — by the sudden severance itself, and by its association with you — so out of character for the gracious man we had welcomed.
As supporters of the campus Chabad for 26 years and of the generations of students who have found spiritual comfort there, we must express our dismay to you.
We moved here 26 years ago to support the fledgling Chabad House. While there was a small Hillel in an old house on Sherman Avenue, the Jewish academic community was tiny and mostly anonymous. Our hope was with two synagogues in place and with Rabbi Klein’s boundless energy and knowledge, the Jewish community on campus would grow, supported by an extraordinarily hospitable adult contingent. As adult members, we are still very attached to our many NU Jewish alumni friends, attending their life and family events and providing counsel when asked.
Rabbi Klein’s service to the Jewish community, on and off campus (as well as to the city of Evanston and its police force) has been steadfast, encouraged by NU and financially bolstered. Without Rabbi Klein, his services, holiday celebrations, heralded birthright trips to Israel and the kosher food program he created, applications and attendance from academically gifted and observant Jews would be minimal. Rabbi Klein’s urging that class registration no longer conflict with the High Holidays resulted in a permanent NU schedule change, in and of itself a significant accomplishment. Northwestern finally became a school where parents knew their children would be embraced by a warm and spiritually supportive campus home. This new environment resulted in a pool of accomplished Jewish graduates who make NU and the Chabad House proud.
The Chabad House, Rabbin Klein, and the supportive adult community he created have made a positive difference to Northwestern students. We know we will see some of these stars on campus. And we suspect they will be as surprised and dismayed as we are at the dismissal of Rabbi Klein and Chabad from campus. Will financial donations be affected? We suspect so. “Alienation of affection” will surely occur.
President Schapiro, we are available at any time to further discuss this unfortunate situation. Meanwhile, we remain as disheartened as the rest of our community and much of campus.
Mr. and Mrs. Eli Wolf