Chabad On Campus 2: I Forgot The Mashka

In my previous post on Chabad on Campus, I forgot to mention what may be the primary reason Chabad has any success at all – alcohol. As C-Girl notes:

I attended a Kabbalas Shabbos service & dinner at a major US university a few years ago when I was traveling for work. The service was wonderful, if sparsely attended. There was much heartfelt prayer, lots of singing- it was truly a joyous time.

The weirdness began when everyone drifted downstairs for dinner. As soon as kiddush began, young guys came out of the woodwork, as did a lot of “unusual” older non-religious types, all who expressed a great deal of familiarity toward the rabbi. All proceeded to get stinking drunk along with the rabbi, who got louder and more confrontational as the night progressed. At one point, most of the students left to go see a movie on campus.

This was way different from what I’d seen in my hometown, and I prayed that it wasn’t a typical campus Chabad experience.

Stillfrum responds:

It’s not atypical at all. And it gets worse. I witnessed the above behavior from Chabad at Rutgers University, even around and after the time that they built their huge replica of 770 on the campus. The Chabad rabbi got many kids drunk, including frat boys who thought it was cool to get drunk with the rabbi before they went to their parties on friday nights. On Simchas Torah, dancing outside the student center, the rabbi stood up on a garbage can and declared that the newly-deceased Rebbe was the moshiach. Not only that, they ostracized many people who had the nerve to participate in Hillel acitivities. My friends were told that they shouldn’t speak to me, that I was poisonous. Lies were spread about me. I found out that I was not the first, nor the last, to experience this treatment. The daughter of the Hillel rabbi in my time that later studied at Rutgers, (the rabbi has smicha from YU and the Mir Yeshiva) was told by the rebbetzin that she wasn’t welcome at Chabad House.

No thanks to those experiences, I am an orthodox rabbi today. I didn’t need any kiruv organization to become frum, although the Orthodox Hillel rabbi was probably the biggest influence towards that path.…

I wonder what George Rohr has to say about this?

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47 Comments

Filed under Chabad Theology

47 responses to “Chabad On Campus 2: I Forgot The Mashka

  1. Tzippora

    I’ve seen exactly that type of scenario at Rutgers. The Chabad rabbi brought out a good lot of mixed drinks for the multiple, multiple l’chaims. He was even more soused than the students, since he drank at each table in the dining room. It seemed very sketchy, to be giving 17 year olds more drinks than they could handle, especiall on university property. And that rabbi was a complete lush himself.

    I also was told there that Chabad was the only “frum” Jewish group, that Hillel was not frum enough. There seemed to be little overlap, but the truth is, I had no idea that was because of the Chabad rabbi.

  2. Yochanan Lavie

    Chabad has a philosophy similar to the Roman “in vino veritas” (I forgot their formulation). I know recovering Jewish alchoholics who are very uncomfortable around Chabad activities. I too don’t drink (not because of alchoholism, but for medical reasons), and I have to insist firmly that I don’t want to drink.

  3. Nigritude Ultramarine

    Chabad has a philosophy similar to the Roman “in vino veritas” (I forgot their formulation).

    נכנס יין יוצא סוד

  4. Yochanan Lavie

    Thanks, N.U. That’s it.

  5. sarah

    This is a big problem, you are correct. It happens in Australia as well as the US.
    Mushka mushka mushka. The kids are blind drunk and can’t walk home in a straight line (that’s the frum kids….. Heaven help the kids who get in a car)
    There needs to be some education for the rabbis who are supplying the mushka.
    It is a chillul Hashem.
    Can somebody do something about it?

  6. Anonymous

    Lubavitch should be classified as a wine-drinking, beer-guzzling fraternity and treated like one.

    Maybe MADD should start protesting against Lubavitch.

  7. Two reactions to the Rutgers Lubavitch rabbi in question. I assume he is the same man I met about three years ago.

    1. I told him I’d spent my mother’s entire shiva period trashed because I couldn’t deal with what happened. He said “So?” I told him “Yeah, but I am a recovering alcoholic. Back then I was active.” That gave him some pause.

    2. He’s one of the best men I’ve ever met.

  8. stillfrum

    Kalman,
    What does #2 mean?

  9. Sobered Up

    I was mcarved by Chabad and spent Simchat Torah with them for several years. I naively thought that drinking during this Festival was the norm in Orthodox Judaism. I remember being shocked at my first Simchat Torah away from them. I look back with disgust at the debouching of a Jewish Holiday. I remember the vomit and the litztonus and it makes me sick.

  10. I spent 10 months in a Chabad yeshiva and I can vouch for the fact that it was ‘normal’ to get absolutely plastered three times a week: ever Thursday night, Shabbat eve and Shabbat day we had a farbrengin. When I stopped drinking, I had to insist firmly on not taking a l’chaim, to the extent that I would be jokingly ridiculed as a “snag” by other intoxicated students. On Simchat Torah it was not unusual to see one of the Rabbonim vomiting out the front of the building.

  11. Hyim Ber

    There is little drinking in modern campus Chabad Houses! Ask students (or read their blogs), most all centers are dry dry dry. There are a few problems out there, but they will be resolved with the passing of time.

  12. Anonymous

    Shmarya became frum because of Chabad on campus, now he bashes them.

  13. There was no Chabad on campus or any Chabad outreach to campus in Minnesota. I became frum because I wanted to. I hooked up with Chabad through a gard student friend who WAS NOT AND IS NOT CHABAD and who now distances himself from Chabad because of what he call Chabad’s “meshugas.”

  14. stillfrum

    Hyim Ber,
    THEN RESOLVE THEM! You make me sick with these excuses. If you know of these problems, remove those rabbis from their positions, or make it clear that they will be removed if they don’t stop this behavior. Interesting that though you say most Chabads are dry, the evidence from many different people posting on this blog is otherwise. At Rutgers it has been going on for at least 15 years (and I am told by others that it was going on long before I got there).

    If the way you determine whether these problems are “solved” is by asking the shlichim, you’re screwing up. They will deny it over and over again. Send someone into Chabad at Rutgers, and ask Baruch Goodman if you can see the Rebbe’s room. You’ll find the room where they keep all the mashkeh that is served to students.

    I know why they can’t solve these problems. Since the rebbe sent these shlichim to their positions, only the rebbe can remove them. Not too hard to figure out why they’re still in their posts-they’ll be waiting a long time for the rebbe to do something about this.

    By the way, Chabad failed miserably at making me frum. I did that on my own, mostly with the influence of the Hillel rabbi that Chabad fought against.

  15. the gr'a z'l sure was right

    those plastered minim, cannot be repaired.
    getting drunk, is part of their “hashkofe”.
    this is their “torah”-lehovdil-, and this is what they are offering.
    being literalists, (i.e petaeem in rambam’s language) they will explain to that willing to listen, that “veyayin yessamach levav enosh” means that it’s good to get drunk as it helps to climb up the higher rungs of ruchnius.
    it’s not only on campus, it’s also with grown ups -a.k.a prospective donnors.
    the gr’a z’l sure was right !

  16. the gr'a z'l sure was right

    should one call them jews or mekarev ? or keep in mind first that they are drunk minim?

  17. Hyim Ber

    “If you know of these problems, remove those rabbis from their positions, or make it clear that they will be removed if they don’t stop this behavior.”

    To the best of my knowledge, Chabad at Rutgers is not a legitimate Chabad-Lubavitch institution. If you visit http://www.chabad.org/centers and you will note that they are not listed. This must be intentional, don’t you say?

    Also check http://www.chabad.edu/centers/campus.asp?country=USA&state=NJ where it is more clear.

  18. stillfrum

    an interesting point. The thing that’s clear is that they are on the wrong side of the Chabad politics that have been prevalent since the rebbe’s death. Sue them for copyright infringement. They have been using the Chabad name there for over 30 years. I would not be surprised if the abuses and practices that occur happen specifically at the non-endorsed Chabad houses (and the ones that are most adamant in their belief that the rebbe ztz”l is still alive and the moshiach). However, even if this is the case, is it not incumbent on Chabad leadership to stop these people from perpetuating their dangerous behavior in the name of the rebbe and Chabad?

  19. Happens everywhere, both sides. And Chabad has done little (if anything) to stop this.

  20. Hyim Ber

    “I would not be surprised if the abuses and practices that occur happen specifically at the non-endorsed Chabad houses (and the ones that are most adamant in their belief that the rebbe ztz”l is still alive and the moshiach).”

    Pay dirt.

  21. Hyim Ber’s comment is proof that he is far from objective. I have stories from dozens of Chabad Houses all over the world. All but Rutgers are “official”. (And Rutgers WAS official until very recently.)

    This isn’t a problem with messianists – it’s a problem with Chabad.

  22. Hyim Ber

    “is it not incumbent on Chabad leadership to stop these people from perpetuating their dangerous behavior in the name of the rebbe and Chabad?”

    Yes. However, it is very hard to pull the plug on a local Chabad center because of Chabad’s decentralized nature.

    You might find this interesting: http://72.14.205.104/search?q=cache:www.njjewishnews.com/njjn.com/2504/njterritorial.html+site:www.njjewishnews.com

  23. Hyim Ber

    Sorry, that URL was too long. Here it is: http://tinyurl.com/nqrzx

  24. Hyim Ber

    Hyim Ber never claimed to be objective. Hyim Ber however doesn’t have an ax to grind, so he *might* be more objective than Shmarya.

  25. Trying to pin this problem on the messianists is far from objective. Clearly YOU have an axe to grind.

  26. Hyim Ber

    Face it: Rutgers is Messianic/alcoholic and is not recognized by the central Chabad. The former Shliach to NYU was Messianic, he was removed. I am sure that there are others that have been dealt with in a similar manner.

    Change is happening, perhaps not at the pace–and in a manner that is a little bit quieter–than some would want, but it is happening.

  27. Sure. because they are MESSIANISTS. But when so-called anti-messianists do the same thing – and they do – they are NOT removed.

    Remember all the allegations against Avremel Lipsker formerly of Morristown? Well, Chabad knew about all of them for YEARS. He wasn’t removed until his public messianism became an issue. Then his misbehavior was used to out him, because outing him on the basis of his messianism waas NOT acceptible.

  28. the gr'a z'l sure was right

    messianists or not, we seem to be digressing ; the mashqe, has nothing to do with messianism. (although i believe this whole kat is messiaminim).
    the mashqe has more to do with the culture that holds it as a harbinger of ruchnius. to me this proofs that this kat is controlled by sitro ochoro and has nothing of judaism left in it!

  29. Dovid Lerner

    The Gr”a is turning over in his grave seeing you misrepresent him. Now slink away.

    Just so you know: The Rebbe spoke MANY times against excessive drinking, limiting younger people to 3 or 4 SMALL L’chaims. Any people who deliberatly intoxicate young students is fighting what the Rebbe stood for.

    In fact, in 1967 the Rebbe forbade anyone who violated this rule to partcipate in Tahalucha. (Visiting shuls on Yom Tov to give over Divrei Torah and chizuk.)

    Tahalucha is something unique to Chabad, the Rebbe didn’t want these sort of people representing Chabad so he forbade them from participating.

  30. the gr'a z'l sure was right

    Reb Slinkey

    “the rebbe” is representing the gra position ? ?
    may be that’s why the gra zl maybe turning wherever;
    don’t u think Slinkey?!

    “the rebbe, said many things, including singing and waving his arms when yechi was sung in his presence”.

    But we are digressing here again.
    rebbe, no rebbe, the rebbe is long gone but his legacy survives in chabad shuls, as oposed to other shuls with “zero tolerance” to mashque, chabad attracts underage hi school students to simchat torah, or purim megila readings, by handing out vodka indiscriminately.
    In chabad shalosh sudos of BT’s (they have a minyan on their own) vodka is served by bearded barmen , with an expression on their face that says “don’t you worry, have another one”.
    This is part and parcel of their ritual. self exploring teen agers , know where to go for free -and unlimited supply- mamesh koyssee revoye- booze.
    The rebbe z’l must have noticed that a chossid shiker, does not speak very coherently. No wonder he disallowed those to speak in Tahalucha’s .
    I never read however anywhere else that he , the Rebbe went anti mashqe.
    I have seen -long long after my college days- more than one chabad rabbi, getting drunk in his very home, at Shabbes or Yomtov kiddush, in front of their very own young kids .
    If he did, why would chassidim shoyteem who
    venerate him so much, neglect to stop supporting Absolute and Stolishnaya.

  31. ah yid

    it’s 4 ‘keleshkes’ which equals about 4 ounces for anyone under 40 the exception to the rule is purim.

  32. Hyim Ber

    “I never read however anywhere else that he , the Rebbe went anti mashqe.”

    You seemed to haven’t looked particularly far. Here is an entire thread on chabadtalk discussing the Rebbe’s views on Mashke.

    http://www.chabadtalk.com/forum/showthread.php3?t=412

  33. Hyim Ber

    Pray remember that Chabad is a Russian Chasidus. In Russia and Poland–especially 100 years ago–drinking Vodka was par for the course. Chasidim incorporated alcohol into their religio-communal gatherings called Farbrengens. It is likely that some of the Chasidim who were running from persecution by the NKVD (KGB) consumed alcohol to calm their nerves.
    This tradition transplanted over to America. In the mid 1920’s the previous Rebbe termed Mashke a “Dovor Hamaus” (=a disgusting thing) leading many Chasidim to avoid using it for Kiddush and Havdala.
    In the mid-60’s the 7th Rebbe called on his younger Chasidim (those under 40 yrs. old) to avoid drinking more than 4 shot glasses in one sitting.

  34. Hyim Ber

    Serving alcohol to minors is illegal, and lawlessness should not be tolerated by anyone.

  35. Josh

    By the way. IOt is well known, as much as Hayim Ber tries to deny, most shlichim are messianic, including the new reaplacements at NYU. They are staunchly messianic, I know because I studied there, as well as at many other “official” chabad centers. And the old representatives, were not remoed for messianic reasons…

  36. Hyim Ber

    “IOt (sic) is well known, as much as Hayim Ber tries to deny, most shlichim are messianic, including the new reaplacements (sic) at NYU”

    Please prove these statements, or retract it.

  37. the gr'a z'l sure was right

    Mashqe? Dovor hamaus – to Chabad ?
    You kidding or what? I never noticed!
    Says who ?
    Nobody seems to have told rabbis M. Friedman and his friends who star in a weekly Sunday morning (cartoon time) TV program sitting around a table, graced by a bottle of Vodka and dispensing Divrei Toyre. Chillul hashem to jews and gentiles alike (forgot to mention, it’s on the Christian Channel, mind you jews are forwarned at the end of the program , that the Jewish program is finished. Who knows? Jews may not notice & slip into watching other Messianists r’l) !

  38. Dovid Lerner

    You poor fool, you think you will learn the Rebbe’s views from your pitifull sources? You probably have never learnt any of the Rebbe’s Torah.

    Some sources: (a few dates that I recall off the top of my head), Shabbos Shmini 5723, Sivan 2 5727, Teves 11 5747.

    Now slink away.

  39. Dovid Lerner

    And another thing, if “the gr’a z’l sure was right”, will you:

    1) Not eat any shechitah from any chassid(regardless of type of chossid)
    2) Sit Shiva if your brother becomes a chassid?
    3) Not count them for a minyan?

    Want to know what I think? That you are an uneducated fool brought up with hatred passed unto you by your family.

    Now slink away.

  40. The Unlubab

    Lerner, you have a strange name for such a bad teacher!
    Try to make your point withouth the ‘now slink away’ suffix:It’s arrogant and makes you sound like a cult preacher.

  41. Dovid Lerner

    At least I have the courage to write my name….

  42. the gr'a z'l sure was right

    “you think you will learn the Rebbe’s views from your pitifull sources? You probably have never learnt any of the Rebbe’s Torah.”

    what is there to learn ? the bottle of vodka on the table in the tv program is amply visible for all to see !
    i have attended shalosh sudos where the vodka is always generous, rov keyod hameilekh!
    (in their particular case, the melekh indicates achashveiresh drinking style, all year round).
    what their rebbe said in parsha so and so, what difference does it make?
    wherever the mashqe is consumed without reserve, no 1,2,3 and 4 cups?
    as to they rebbe’s Torah, I am accustomed to stick to Torat Moshe.

  43. Lawrence M. Reisman

    With respect to Chabad drinking, even if “the 7th Rebbe called on his younger Chasidim (those under 40 yrs. old) to avoid drinking” etc., the fact is that they do drink and drink heavily. And as Rov Dvorkin and the Va’ad Rabbonei Lubavitch paskined 23 years ago, when you have individuals within a group that is doing something, their behavior is attributed to the entire group from the leadership on down, even if there are (weak) protests. In other words, applying the p’sak, we must assume that the entire Chabad movement, from the Rebbe on down, condoned the heavy drinking that took place and still takes place. (Having been to several Chabad weddings in the past few years, I can say that the drinking goes on, and anyone who refuses to drink is looked upon either as a freak or a misnagid, I don’t know which is worse)

    With regard to the Cherem haGra, the Torah Temimah quotes the Tzemach Tzedek as saying the Gra did the chasidim a favor by imposing the cherem, and that the cherem saved the chasidic movement from excessive deviations from Yiddishkeit (or something like that)

  44. Anonymous

    when i learnd in brooklyn our weekly fun was to go to 770 on thursdy night . and see all these drunk chabadniks throwing up all over the place drunk as skunks

  45. moshe

    all defenders would lubavitch a favor when they do not defend this one: While in book so and so and page so and so the Rebbe said so and so; the fact remains that drunkards are part of the culture; that every shabbos 770 afternoon smells with vodka in the entire shul with shikorim …the more you know how to drink they greater chossid you are “ehr ken nemen maashke” and when you could tell someoneelse off with your mashke you are a greater chossid, time to change it NOW!

  46. Neo-Conservaguy

    “At least I have the courage to write my name….”

    …and the silliness to post rubbish while using it. Seriously Dovid, have you had the “courage” to acknowledge even one of many things you’ve posted that have been refuted? Even one, oh courageous BT?

    Reality check: people are telling you from multiple first hand experiences that booze often flows in excess at many Chabad shuls/events. That doesn’t mean every one – I’ve seem plenty of sober Chabad gatherings in my neck of the woods. But the Purim I once saw in a Chabad Yeshiva was a chilul heShem if ever there was one; teen boys puking and falling from tables they were dancing upon, all while the elder rabbis sat too drunk to move from their chairs. Deal with the truth rather than trying to argue “The Rebbe’s” ZL”T conceptual position on the matter.

  47. Dovid Lerner

    Reality check: I haven’t denied them! I have been going on the record that these people aren’t making an authentic representation of Chabads views!!

    I am not a BT, I’m FFB. I’ve learned in Chabad Yeshivahs all my life, I KNOW BETTER THEN ANYONE HERE THAT THERE IS A DRINKING PROBLEM! I’VE SEEN THEM WHEREVER I’VE BEEN!

    So what was I saying, that these boozehounds are DISREGARDING the Rebbe’s teachings! AND THEY ARE WRONG!

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