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.
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?