“It was most apparent in the first impression what kind of mensch this young man was,” Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi, director of Chabad at Harvard, said of former student Jared Kushner. One night during his freshman year, after spending a few hours with him studying Tanya, Kushner saw it had snowed outside, asked for a shovel and cleared the sidewalk in front of the house, Zarchi related to the JTA.
from the JTA:
Jared Kushner was already a regular at the Harvard Chabad when he walked in one day, took a crumpled piece of paper out of his jacket pocket, put it down on the table and walked away.
It was a personal check for $18,000.
“’I have some deals that really went well, so I want to give something back to Chabad,’” Harvard Chabad Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi recalls Kushner, then a sophomore or junior, saying. Zarchi calls it “one of the largest checks we ever received, not just from a student, but even from a parent.”
Kushner, now son-in-law and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, established a constant, outsize presence at the Harvard Chabad during his time as a student there, Zarchi and other students recall. Beyond the surprise donation, Kushner attended prayers and Shabbat dinner regularly, recruited students to Chabad’s programs, performed workaday tasks for the house and served as the emcee when Chabad dedicated a new building in 2003.
On a personal level, Kushner was a “like a part of the family” to Zarchi and his wife, Elkie, the rabbi says. From his earliest days at Harvard through his senior year, Kushner attended the Zarchi children’s birthday parties, sent flowers to the family and received chicken soup from Elkie Zarchi at his dorm when he came down with the flu.
“It was most apparent in the first impression what kind of mensch this young man was,” said Zarchi, now 43, who was unabashed in his praise of Kushner. “How considerate and how polite and respectful and appreciative he was at that age. He was always years beyond his age in the way he carried himself, the way he related to others, the way he led.”