There is no free Shabbas dinner
As an alumnus (Class of 1970) and former editor of Student Life (1969), I’d like to join the others in welcoming the class of 2014. Statistics show that you are more talented than me and most of my classmates.
I am writing on this Saturday before Rosh Hashanah to remind my fellow tribesmen of the Jewish faith who are entering WU that there is no such thing as a free Shabbas dinner. In addition to being proselytized by the local “Jews for Jesus” (an oxymoron), you will be offered a free lunch or dinner from the local Chabad house, which I call “Jews for Moses.” Like most Chabad houses, it is run by a member of this ultra-orthodox branch of Hasidic Judaism.
Although I don’t like what Chabad Rabbi Hershey Novick is teaching, I concede that he isn’t stupid. He is persuasive. He could sell Mezzuzahs to Palestinians, which is all the more reason to know what he is selling before you try it.
If you take the bait of a Shabbas dinner, google “Chabad” first. If you do, you’ll note that this sect of Judaism currently has a large segment which believes its former Rebbe Menahem Schneerson, who inherited the position, is the Messiah. Some Chabadnicks believe he is still alive even though he was buried more than 10 years ago.
One of Chabad’s current activities has been an effort to free Rabbi Sholom Rubashkin, head of the Rubashkin crime family, who was recently sentenced to 28 years in prison for defrauding one of our local St. Louis banks—a true chillul hashem [desecration of God’s name].
To Chabad, no Jew—no matter how guilty—belongs in jail. They defend Rubashkin, who was its major funder, because he was charitable. Truthfully, he was a “Robbing Hoodstein,” stealing from the rich and giving to whomever he wanted, less 10 percent for expenses.
What’s more, think twice before you go to Hillel. When I was a student, it was headed by a fine reform rabbi, Rabbi Robert Jacobs, known for his ecumenical actions. For example, he met with Pope John Paul II on his visit to St. Louis. Now, however, the board of our local Hillel thought that you would appreciate being rabbied to by an orthodox rabbi who believes that men and women shouldn’t pray together.
The board’s choice, Rabbi Andy Kastner, has said publically that his main mission here is to “teach Torah.” Unless you think that the creator of the universe cares whether you have a beard, go to a mikvah after your period or plow your field with oxen and donkeys mixed, you might consider enrolling in another class. (If you do want to attend his Torah classes, I suggest “Introduction to Stonings 101.”)
So, before you get hooked into the false belief that orthodox Judaism is the only authentic brand of Judaism and come home for Thanksgiving with a black hat or wig, read up on Spinoza and the other members of our tribe who helped bring humanity out of the dark ages.
And L’ Shana Tova!
Class of 1969