Chabad House receives community support at annual fundraising event

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein celebrate the 27th anniversary of the Tannenbaum Chabad House. The banquet was held Sunday at the Womans Club of Evanston.

Melody Song/Daily Senior Staffer

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein celebrate the 27th anniversary of the Tannenbaum Chabad House. The banquet was held Sunday at the Woman’s Club of Evanston.

Jeanne Kuang, Assistant Campus Editor

April 21, 2013, will be remembered as Tannenbaum Chabad House Day in Evanston, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl declared Sunday evening at the Jewish center’s Service Recognition Award Reception.

The formal dinner at the Woman’s Club of Evanston was Chabad House’s annual fundraising event and ceremony to honor active members of the Chabad community, including three Northwestern students. Sunday marked the first fundraising dinner since Chabad’s disaffiliation from the University last fall and subsequent lawsuit against NU following allegations that its leader, Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, was serving alcohol to minors.

The event was the largest one in “six or seven years” and helped Chabad House raise more than half the $250,000 annual budget, Klein said. The fundraising will help Chabad House with its plans to expand both its facilities and its staff. The organization has already raised “close to $400,000” for the project, Klein said. The building expansion project that will make Chabad House more accessible and able to accommodate larger events.

Also during his speech Sunday, Klein announced the addition of a new rabbi, Meir Hecht, who will arrive at Chabad House within the next few weeks.

“He’s going to help develop (and) reach out more to the community,” Klein told The Daily.

Ellen Wodika (Kellogg ’93), an alumna and Evanston resident, said she was excited for Hecht and his wife to join the community and help Chabad House strengthen its role in Evanston’s non-student population.

“We want to develop more community ties and enrich the adult part of the community,” she said. “We’re really hoping that they’re going to help us re-invigorate things.”

Wodika added that Chabad’s fundraising was important to help the organization supplement financial losses from “not being directly affiliated with the University.”

Preceding the dinner, local leaders and Chabad House executive board member Meredith Goodman, a Daily columnist, gave short speeches about how Klein has impacted their communities. Speakers included Tisdahl, Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington and Donald Jacobs, the dean emeritus of Kellogg School of Management.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) made an unannounced visit to the event. She praised Klein’s involvement in the community and described his work as “lighting a way through the darkness.”

Before presenting community member Linda Forman with the Chesed Award, Klein spoke about selflessness and embracing love to a crowd nodding in agreement. In his speech, he acknowledged the victims of the recent Boston Marathon bombings as well as ongoing violence in Israel and thanked rabbis across the world for dedicating their lives to holy service.

“Evanston got the message of what Chabad is about,” he said, thanking the community for its support and Tisdahl for her formal recognition of the day.

Matthew Renick, outgoing president of the Chabad House student executive board and one of three students receiving the Young Leadership Award at the event, said the dinner allowed him to see the non-student side of the Chabad House community.

“We saw the student support,” the Communication senior said of campus responses to the disaffiliation. “Coming to an event like this is really nice. You get to see the greater Evanston, Ill., community.”

Increased attendance and active messages of support set this year’s dinner apart from the rest, Klein said. He said he sees the organization reaching out even more to students and adults alike in the future.

“The outpouring of love and support is really, really amazing,” he said. “With or without the blessings of the University itself, Chabad is our community here, and we’re going to still be a community.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Chabad’s budget. Their budget is $250,000. The story also misstated how much Chabad has already raised. They have raised $400,000. The story also misstated Donald Jacobs’ title. He is dean emeritus of the Kellogg School of Management. The Daily regrets the errors.