A Closer Look at Chabad Life in Yeshiva University

Stern College for women, a branch of Yeshiva University.

Many students say they do not relate to the Chabad club because they are not Chabadniks. This is a shame, since the Chabad club at both Yeshiva University and Stern College is open to everyone, not just chabadniks, and everyone walks out a different and better person.

The YU Chabad club provides a service for people who are interested in learning about Hassidut. Josh Krisch, president of the YC Chabad club, discusses the disparity between Chabad in the rest of the world and Chabad here at home. “[Whereas] Chabad Worldwide offers Jewish infrastructure where there is none,” Kirsch says, “Chabad at YU knows that we already have Jewish infrastructure on campus, so we provide the part that is still missing…namely a curriculum in Hassidut and a Hassidic values.” The Chabad club aims to offer a service that is not currently available, to facilitate a well-rounded Jewish education by offering students a chance to learn Hassidut. YU Chabad club ensures that a student who wishes to learn Hassidut or Tanya will have an opportunity to study with YU students who have learned these subjects.

At both campuses, the message delivered is that Chabad club is for anyone who wishes to grow in the Torah learning and wishes to be embraced with utter love. According to the Stern Chabad co-president Rochel Spangenthal, “Chabad Hassidut has at its foundation the encompassing mitzvah ‘to love one’s fellow as one loves oneself’ and to permeate that love with acts of kindness and mitzvot. We tirelessly deliver a universal message: each person is invaluable and has a direct and powerful ability to bring wholeness and peace to the world.”

“Many people view Chabad as being for the non-religious,” Spangenthal continues. “But, really, Chabad and Hassidut are for all Jews, notwithstanding their affiliation. It is about making the next day a bit more wonderful than the last.” Both of the YC and Stern Chabad presidents emphasize that the Chabad club is for anyone who would like to grow and strengthen their Torah knowledge and values. “We seek to engage students at their own pace and comfort level through innovative educational and cultural programs,” says Spangenthal.

So far, Stern’s Chabad club has had remarkable feedback. The club organizes the SCW branch of the Rosh Chodesh Society, an international Jewish sisterhood that meets monthly. On November 30, the club hosted Mrs. Shaindy Jacobson, director of the Rosh Chodesh Society, who delivered the first of a seven-part series on the essence of being a Jewish woman. Jacobson herself developed the series, titled “Portrait of a Woman: Seven Dimensions of the Feminine Mystique.”

“The purpose of this course is to identify the unique strengths that account for this success,” Jacobson explains. “Our goal is for each woman to walk away with a strong sense of self-awareness, empowered to be all the woman she can be.”

I asked the students to describe their reaction to the Rosh Chodesh society in one word and the responses include: “fulfilling” and “enlightening.”

It was a thought-provoking lecture. One quote touched me in particular. The Keter Shem Tov, Hosafot, 227 says, “When you behold a part of the essence, you behold it all.” One way we can understand ourselves is by our essence – a part of G-d. We do not need to understand our entire essence, rather, if we can connect to a piece of our essence than we connect to all of our essence.

I am a Modern Orthodox Jew, currently a junior at Stern. While in high school I began to learn about Hassidut and participated in Stern’s Chabad events since my arrival at Stern. By learning more about Hassidut, I find that I gain a deeper level of happiness in my Avodah that I would not have gained otherwise.

Every event that I have attended by the Chabad club, whether it is visiting a tzaddik’s grave, the grave of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Farbrengens, or the Rosh Chodesh Society, has left me a little more in touch with who I am. Stern Chabad club has had speakers such as Simcha Weinstein, “the comic book Rabbi”, and weekly Tanya classes and chavrutot.

Chabad is a word that describes one of the purposes of the organization of Chabad worldwide and especially at YC and SCW. Chabad is an acronym for wisdom (chachmah), understanding (binah), and intellect (daas). Rabbi Dr. Alter Ben-Zion Metzger, professor of Jewish Studies at Stern, writes in Yiddishe Heim, page 9, “The attachment of the human spirit is effected by the union of Chaba”d [of man] with Chaba“d [of the Holy one blessed be He], by means of intellectual and oral Torah study.” Chabad tries to help one develop a deeper level of Torah study.

I believe there is a saying that one only sees what he wishes to see: I ask, do you wish to focus on similarities or differences?

16 Comments

  • 4. Spangy wrote:

    AND LEAH MEADVIN from Philadelphia is the other Chabad Club co-president and she is awesome in every sense of the word. Way to go for spreading the wellsprings of chassidus everywhere you walk, Leah.

  • 5. Go Rochel Spangenthal! wrote:

    Rochel, you are the BEST!!!! May you continue to inspire and teach us!!

  • 7. Rochel wrote:

    Credit for the wonderful quote about the message of Chabad Chassidus goes to the Blums at Chabad of Columbia. It epitomizes our mission! Thanks!

  • 9. YU Guy wrote:

    Now if only there was a system to set up shidduchim between Stern chabad girls and YU chabad guys.

  • 11. CHABAD YU SSSB ALUM wrote:

    YU CLUB rocked when I was in YU ten years ago. Glad to hear it is still going strong.

  • 12. A proud Stern student wrote:

    Rochel Spangenthal is the best! I LOVE going to all the Chabad events!

  • 14. Machayil el Choyil! wrote:

    What a great article keep up the great work. People don’t realize the challenge of reaching students in YU and Stern where they think they already have yiddishkeit. This article is such a great way to help people connect to the Rebbe. You should go from strength to strength!

  • 15. Elisheva Rubin wrote:

    Could someone tell Mrs. Jacobson to that “The Feminine Mystique” is a malaise, not a blessing!
    The article on Chabad would be a nice, except for the fact that the use of the phrase “the Feminine Mystique” indicates that Mrs.Jacobson is an uneducated bumpkin who never read the radical feminist book which coined the term as a harsh derogatory attack on precisely what Jacobson promotes.
    Rather embarrassing to have Chabad representatives publicize their own ignorance.
    Below are excerpts from the book of the name.
    http://www.h-net.org/~hst20

    Excerpts from:

    The Feminine Mystique: Chapter 1

    “The Problem that Has No Name”

    Betty Friedan

    … The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night–she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question–“Is this all?”…

    … In the fifteen years after World War II, this mystique of feminine fulfillment became the cherished and self-perpetuating core of contemporary American culture…

    … What kind of a woman was she if she did not feel this mysterious fulfillment waxing the kitchen floor? … It can be less painful for a woman, not to hear the strange, dissatisfied voice stirring within her.

    It is NO longer possible to ignore that voice, to dismiss the desperation of so many American women…. ”

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