Northwestern Faces Claim of Jewish Bias

      CHICAGO (CN) – Northwestern University is discriminating against the Jewish faith by dissociating with a Chabad organization that has been on its campus for 27 years, the group claims in federal court.
     Chabad-Lubavitch is a hasidic movement and major form of Orthodox Judaism with more than 3,300 institutions, or Chabad houses, worldwide.
     “At the very inception of the Tannenbaum House, in the early 1980s, Chabad had to litigate its right practice religion freely in the city of Evanston,” according to the complaint. “The court, in hearing the matter, determined that ‘the real fear of the defendant city and intervenors is that [Chabad] will use its property to permit the plaintiffs to practice their ancient religion in the way they have conducted it for the past centuries.’ Today, Chabad once again has to fight for that right.”
     As a university chaplain, Rabbi Dov Hillel Kelin uses a stipend to obtain kosher food from a third-party vendor, Sodexo.
     But on Sept. 11, 2012, the university allegedly sent Klein a letter that it was disassociating from Tannenbaum House.
     Though the complaint does not quote from the letter, it says hints that allegations of misconduct against Klein are at the root.
     “Northwestern had no legal reason to disassociate from the Tannenbaum House,” the complaint states. “The university knew that its proffered reasons were specious and based upon innuendo and falsehood. The reasons offered for that disassociation were wholly pretextual and meant to single out Chabad against all other faiths for removal from Northwestern University.
     “Even if the reasons offered for that disassociation were not false, many other campus organizations including religious organizations, had committed the same acts for which Rabbi Klein stood falsely accused,” it continues. “The university was aware of this, and chose only to disassociate with Chabad.”
     The Chabad House says Northwestern disassociated “solely on the basis of Rabbi Klein’s, LCI’s and the Tannenbaum Chabad House’s affiliation with Chabad Chassidism.”
     “Northwestern University would not have taken this action if plaintiffs were not adherents of Chabad Chassidism,” it adds.
     Northwestern has allegedly barred Klein from renewing his contract with Sodexo or “sponsoring a Birthright Israel trip.
     “If Rabbi Klein is enjoined from participating in the above referenced activities, and contracts, and if Rabbi Klein is cut off from providing authentic Jewish and Chassidic experiences to Northwestern University students, it would case irreparable harm to Rabbi Klein, to the charter and purposes of the Tannenbaum Chabad House, and to Lubavitch-Chabad of Illinois,” the complaint states. “It would also cause irreparable harm to Jewish students of Northwestern University.”
     Klein, Lubavitch-Chabad of Illinois and Lubavitch-Chabad of Illinois dba The Tannenbaum Chabad House sued Northwestern University, University Chaplain Timothy Stevens and Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin.
     They seek punitive damages for violations of the Civil Rights Act, and an injunction for Klein.
     Tamara de Silva represents the Chabad House and Klein.
     Northwestern spokesman Al Cubbage told Courthouse News that he was not aware of the lawsuit and declined to comment on Northwestern’s motivation for dissociating from Chabad House.

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