Northwestern University expels Jewish religious organization from campus for serving alcohol
Northwestern University has revoked Tannenbaum Chabad House’s official status on campus due to allegations that Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein has not been following “university policy on alcohol consumption”.
The crux of the issue seems to be whether Rabbi Klein was serving just sacramental wine during religious services or was providing a far wider variety of alcoholic beverages to University students.
According to website Failed Messiah, an acclaimed investigative journalist site that hyper-focuses on the Jewish Orthodox community, an email written by Rabbi Klein and sent just before the Jewish High Holiday of Yom Kippur, “publicized the University’s decision to revoke Chabad House’s official status on campus. Klein wrote that Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president of student affairs, met with him in July and told him to resign immediately or the University would cut ties with him and Chabad.”
Today, Failed Messiah updated the story to add that Klein filed a discrimination suit in federal district court last Friday citing Northwestern, Telles-Irvin and University chaplain Timothy Stevens on behalf of Chabad House and Klein, Lubavitch-Chabad of Illinois.
Shmarya Rosenberg, the author/founder of Failed Messiah, accuses Chabad of offering free liquor as a means of attracting Jewish students to its services. He notes that the other major Jewish organization on campus, Hillel House, does not serve wine at the Sabbath services or meals.
Serving sacramental wine at a religious event is a legally protected right. It is permitted for churches and synagogues to do so in all 50 states. If Rabbi Klein is serving just the sacramental wine, he can defend himself more vigorously and remain on campus. However, if the article is correct and Rabbi Klein was serving “brown and white” alcohol to those under 21, he has broken the furnishing alcohol to minors law. If the university has evidence of that, they should provide it to the police and Rabbi Klein would be legally liable for misdemeanor consequences. In either case, the university is overreacting by kicking Chabad off the campus. Both parties should present the evidence that they have and let the local law enforcement sort it out in the courts. For more information about the underage drinking laws in your state and around the nation, please visit SocialHostLaw.com