Jewish students still fume over removal of ultra-orthodox group from campus
October 29, 2002
Orthodox Jewish students remain opposed to the dismissal of an ultra-orthodox religious organization this summer for violating University policy, including the serving of alcohol to minors.
Chabad, locally led by rabbi Zalman Lipskier, caters to orthodox Jewish students, though those from other denominations are welcome at its events. The Office of Religious Life has prohibited them from gathering on campus.
That decision has divided the community because many orthodox students say Emory is not fulfilling their religious needs, said College junior Raquel Szeinfeld, who has taken part in both Atlanta YAD and Chabad events.
Oftentimes, on-campus Friday night services do not reach the 10-person quota required by Jewish law to recite certain prayers because students attend Lipskier's off-campus services, she said.
Chabad draws an average of 25 to 40 students to its off-campus Shabbat dinners, Lipskier said. He said he thinks he draws such a substantial number of students because of the family environment created.
Atlanta YAD board member and Associate Professor of History Eric Goldstein said the University's decision stems from policy violations, not the group's goals.
"I don't think you'll find anyone who doesn't believe Chabad should be on campus just by virtue of being Chabad," he said.
University policy dictates that each religion is allowed only one governing authority. Atlanta YAD is recognized as the official Jewish clerical group, while Baha'i Club, Emory Zen, Hindu Students Council and Muslim Students Association are the governing bodies of Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim religions, respectively. Different Christian denominations have single entities responsible for their representation on campus.
Henry-Crowe cited Lipskier's alleged fundraising separately from Atlanta YAD as another reason for the University's actions. She also cited the group's serving of alcohol to minors as another violation necessitating the group's dismissal.
"Serving wine in a ritual service is one thing," Henry-Crowe said. "Serving wine outside of a ritual service is another thing."
Lipskier said Chabad's relationship with the University became complicated, but declined to elaborate. He said he preferred not to get caughtup in a political controversy.
Lipskier first came to Emory when the University contracted him to oversee the Gatehouse Grill, formerly a kosher on-campus dining facility, Henry-Crowe said. He expressed an interest in establishing a connection with students on campus and was told he had to work with Atlanta YAD.
The group held joint events with Atlanta YAD and separate events which YAD sponsored.
"Chabad was on campus unofficially but cooperatively," Henry-Crowe said.
College sophomore Aaron Zakem, who attends Chabad events, said he is angry that the organization was banned, citing the close bond Lipskier has forged with students.
He proposed a compromise: Allow Lipskier on campus once a month to lead orthodox services. This would allow orthodox services to be led by a rabbi and would likely draw enough students to satisfy Jewish law, he said.
Henry-Crowe said Atlanta YAD is responsive to the needs of the Jewish community, and added that the University is not currently considering allowing Chabad to return.
Lipskier said he does not want students to feel the need to choose between Chabad and Atlanta YAD. He added that he struggles to believe Atlanta YAD can provide for the orthodox community.
Emory's Director of Jewish Life Heidi Berger said she hopes that Atlanta YAD will grow and improve so that in the future, orthodox students will feel that they can receive the religious experiences they want on campus.
Both Berger and Lipskier said the relationship between Atlanta YAD and Chabad is amicable and that they are in contact with each other occasionally.
©Copyright 2002, The Emory Wheel (GA)