DC Shlichus Feud Profiled by the Washingtonian

A Shlichus Feud in Washington, DC which spilled out into secular courts has been boldly profiled by the Washingtonian, a popular news magazine which gave its take on the fight between Levi Shemtov and Yudi Steiner.

Inside the Strangely Public War Between Two Top Washington Rabbis

Rabbi Levi Shemtov is a Washington institution. Rabbi Yudi Steiner was his protégé. But now the pair are at loggerheads over who gets to mentor one of the country’s largest Jewish student bodies.

by Emily Codik – The Washingtonian

For about a year now, a peculiar turf war has vexed George Washington University’s Foggy Bottom campus.

It’s not the subject matter—two rabbis squabbling over who can lead the university’s Jewish students—that makes the scrum unusual. Nor is it the specifics of the quarrel, which has involved insults, name-calling, dueling religious organizations, and allegations of untoward, alcohol-fueled socializing. Rather, what makes the fight truly exceptional is where it’s unfolding.

Campus spats are regularly resolved in off-the-record academic committees. Feuds involving prominent political operators are typically swept under the rug by pricey PR firms. And face-offs between Jewish clergy, in particular, tend to be handled in private rabbinical courts.

But this battle, which involves all three, is taking place in DC Superior Court, for all the world to see.

Continue reading this article at washingtonian.com.

This article was originally removed at the behest of The Washingtonian, who requested that we republish it after their web-based version was made available.


  • Yad Hachasidim al Haelyona

    Rabbi Yudi, the epitome of a chossid!
    You are an inspiration to us all, may Hashem give you the strength to continue impacting the gw students for many many more years!
    Keep it up

  • Levi

    The problem with yeshus…. This is what happens when we forget that SHLICHUS means that this isn’t about the shliach, it’s about the Mishaleach.

  • Anonymous

    This is absolutely lashon hara! Crownheights.info shame on you! This is inappropriate and not respectful.

  • question.

    What a chillul Hashem. You see, when it comes to money and power, halacha is thrown out. What happened to the issur of going to secular court, and chilLil hashem. This is the second article this eek eith Lubavitchers “rabbis” engaged in disputes in secular courts over money and power….simply embarrassing

  • what has shlichus come to!

    This is so sad and what an embarrassment! shame on rabbi Shemtov….I don’t care what “high” name you have you are ruining the name of chabad. keep your personal self out of this and just let it be

  • a shemtov is a shemtov!

    Maybe if they would take a minute and remember why they are there in the first place things would be different! the whole shlichus thing became a business with honor hungry people. where are the heads of mercez believe me if it wasn’t a big chabad name they would have been slashed already

  • Embarrassing

    I don’t know whether or not the article has been fair to each side.
    The very fact that it’s “grist for the mill” of the secular popular press is something that I find embarrassing, however.
    The velt is always looking for juicy stuff like this, that can appear to undermine all of the good that Chabad does worldwide.
    I certainly wish the whole matter could have been handled more privately, but it’s too late now.

  • Fresser club member

    Huge kiddush Hashem and kiddush Lubavitch I wish them both much success…(sic)!

  • well-written & sad

    What a chilul Hashem. Shemtov is a big baal gyvah & Steiner is stubborn. Having said that, no matter what reports I read, Shemtov always comes out looking like a pompous, petty dictator. Even this article refers to him as “boss” – not exactly in a complimentary fashion.

    The students clearly love Steiner. Shemtov just doesn’t like Steiner’s success. And considering he is the chairman of Aguch’s son, Shemtov should never have put this in court. But he thinks he can get all his political buddies to fix it. Maybe yes, maybe no. But whoever wins, they both lose because of the negative publicity – and the biggest loser is Chabad. Shameful.

  • Anonymous

    That first big picture of Rabbi Steiner with the word “its” is the first one i see of him even remotely grim.
    Your great spirits rock rabbi! We are praying for you

  • such nachas ....

    you ever heard the saying eidim shtick shver?? another community on the verge of ruin ??

  • huh

    Why does every loshon horo /rechilus have to be posted pn public websites???
    And then we scratch our heads asking how can we improve every time tragedy strikes chas vsholom. Enough of publicizing whats doing in everyones kishkes

  • yb

    so sad how people ego could take them to this level !

    especially when it comes to embarrass the Rebbe and Lubavitch

  • Baruch Hashem

    if steiner was initially an employee.. an employee he remains… lots of employees don’t like their boss. but you didn’t mind taking his money in the beginning.

  • important

    what we read in papers/articles is always half a story- although this is awful that it is in the public eye we must tremmber that for sure many details are missing!!!!
    We Must NOt take sides!!! and if we do not publicly bec. this spurs the next reader to correct that opinion which leads to loshon lhora andthe like
    “mdarf leben mit der tseit” and internalize this weeks parsha.
    This is a big no no to anyone who wants to publicize the inner issues or of their personal machlokes/ especially by Chabad shluchim!!!

  • anonymous

    To Steiner and Shemtov families
    It doesnt matter who is right or wrong. Personally whoever made sure it is in the public eye is on the worse end bec. of the loshon horo to the whole world.that is something irreversible- youcannot pick up the feathers from all corners of the world.
    Hashem should please not let his wrath upon us

  • anonymous

    what was the point to have this out in the open. meileh, steiner and shemtov are young hot headed –but where are their fathers? they should have guided their sons to avoid being in the public eye at all costs. why doesn’t steiner pick himself up and move- isn’t that simple?

  • moshe

    Going to Arcoas (Court), is the worst thing an orthodox jew can do especially if Bais Din is already involved.
    Similar to the bobov rift and the satmar rift, the jusdge should tell them both to go back to bais din. Zabla (each picks one and the two pick a third) should minimize the risk of cronyism.
    Barring that, it seems Shemtov’s case itself hinges on the bais din binding arbitration that steiner refrain from fund raising. How can he use court to enforce the arbitration if he didn’t go back to that arbitrator to begin with to enforce its own ruling?
    And whats to keep Steiner from leaving chabad, as so many before him have done, and set up a new not for profit to bring religion to the school? Even if he cant control it, if he abides by the bais din, he can set up an organization with his funders as the Board and be employed in doing the same thing he has been doing till now.
    really silly machinations by shemtov.

  • What goes around comes around

    I know Levi ShemTov Very well.

    He is Talented and was always ready to help his friends. The problem is there is no Bylaws/rules for a big Corporation like Chabad. As the ones on top wants it this way. As this will also limit them. Unfortunately what almost always ends up happening Is a waist of good talent instead of doing what they do best the Rebbes Work…. Lets not talk about the waisted money that Chabad desperately needs and the Chilul Hasem this almost always coses. This also does not do well for our children who see this and only think negative about such a great Organization.

    Do not blame this on either Shliach. This is the fault of all of us. No one caring about some one else. As we have created a situation like the wild West. Until there is bi-laws that is written and is public. Which will force everyone who is in power to think what is good for Chabad/the Rebbe. As they all mean well but are all Nogea Bedovers. Today it is good for them, but surly it will come back at them. When you make Bi laws at the end it is good for everyone. Children and grandchildren…

    But to almost all of you giving comments especially public ones in such a negative way. You are all doing the opposite of what the Rebbe wants. You should never talk against another Yid especially another Shliach as all you are doing is undermining the Rebbes Beautiful organization that the Rebbe Build.

    Think about it this way almost always when ever there is a large some of money involved even with brothers who love each others and are smart and capable. The worst comes out. The only way this works out well for both of them is A) there is rules that were set out and is usually the same for all such cases. Even then it needs sometimes help from other loving family members who are positive and love them both to stare them in the right direction.

    The Rebbe did not push Ahavas Yisroel and Achdus…… for no reason. It looks simple and is pashut. But the Yetzer Hora never looses and apertunity and always tries to ruin a good thing. I know it is very hard but if we have nothing to do or say, that will help this situation the best thing is stay away from it.

    Looking forward to dance with the Rebbe and all of you in Eretz Yisroel.

    Good Shabbos.

  • In support of Yudi

    I cannot see anything in this article that could justify the behavior of Levi Shemtov. Especially if Yudi Steiner it seems, is willing to operate without using the name Chabad.
    Levi, grow up and use your energy to build not to destroy. Swallow your pride and admit that you made a mistake and you will be looked upon with much more respect.

  • Please remove...

    Remove all negative comments, please. We don’t need to hear Lashon Hara. That’s not why this site, technology was made for.
    Nobody needs it, wants it.
    Is this something you would show the Rebbe?
    Moshiach now

  • the shlichus game is twisted

    What happened to shluchim working for the good of the yidden? All I hear is that Rabbi Shemtov spends most of his time shaking down people monetarily who need the ear of politicians! Shluchim are so consumed by fundraising and keeping up with their fellow affluent community shluchim that they have completely forgotten the reason they are in their chabad house in the first place. Its demoralizing. When are they all going to realize the cause is for greater good not their personal lives or agendas.

  • Sam

    Bottom line is if yungerlight go to work for shluchim and then try and break out on their own – how can we blame them for waiting to hire their own children.

  • steiners

    are a very well respected, & extremely highly regarded mishpacha, & founding pillar of the Toronto (grossbaum) anash community. all are exelmpary examples of the rebbe & all are proud shluchim which go lshem mivtza shlichus & not for kovod or kesef (bh s’felt nit on their end so that’s DEFINITLY not any motivating factor. + the fact that horav grossbaum shliach horoshi shlita (& recently also chaver beis din on the top tier of lubavitch) hasn’t convened any psak din or made his position knows speaks VOLUMES more than anything as er ken baideh zaitin mikol hatzdodim minei abei………….vdal vakamal……

  • stubborn

    We need to learn not to be stubborn, not to publicize
    negativity, and think if u are treating your fellow Jew as if he was your child, think if this is what Hashem would want you to do, think if this is hurting anyone because if it is, you know that it’s not the way to go. Let’s learn from this Parsha the severity of loshon horoh and rechilus. Let’s learn from Aharon HaCohen to only bring about Shalom, how to treat eachother with love!

  • get the facts straight

    How come it doesn’t say that the only why they are in secular court is because they already had a din torah and rabbi shemtov won but steiner didn’t listen so the only way steiner would listen is by enforcing it by legal la

  • Chanina; Crown Heights

    I Can Strengthen this all out, Let Me go to Washington For 3 Years & Let Them both Come to Crown Heights In exchange;


  • Milhouse

    The halacha is clear that there is no such thing as “unfair competition” in Torah. The Torah is מורשה קהלת יעקב; it belongs not to Shemtov or to Steiner but to the students who need to hear it from whoever is willing to bring it to them. Whoever stops someone else from doing so is depriving the students of their heritage. We’re also told קנאת סופרים תרבה חכמה, the more “competition” the better.

    Torah is not a parnossoh; in principle it’s forbidden to charge money for teaching Torah – מה אני בחנם אף אתם בחנם. We allow teachers to take שכר בטלה, because otherwise they’ll go off and do something else, but that doesn’t give them “ownership” over what they do. If they’re unhappy with the “competition” then let them takeh go into business.

    Above all, though, when a shliach complains that someone else is taking away his parnossoh he is destroying the whole point of his shlichus. What is he doing there in the first place, if not to teach that Hashem is פותח את ידיך ומשביע לכל חי רצון? Now either he believes that or he doesn’t. If he believes it, then what is he upset about? And if he doesn’t, then how can he teach it to others?

  • with the old breed

    they both should leave You want people to become like you? Looks like only the lawyers and newspapers are winning. Does anyone care about why they are both there in the first place.

  • והאלקים יבקש את נרדף

    No matter who’s right and who’s wrong, it says in Medrash that hashem helps out the victim, even if he’s wrong in principle.

  • serel maness


  • moishie

    Why did this not go to, and stay,in bais din? arkaos is assur lichol hadaios!

  • different perspective

    More than either of these 2 being (somewhat at fault), the weak and spineless members of the Chabad leadership in Brooklyn are ultimately to blame.

    The Bais Din (vaad rabonei lubavitch) has effectively absolved itself from any meaningful intervention my allowing its own members, in addition to the members of the various board @ merkaz, to inject themselves into disputes in which they clearly have an interest. Rabbi Kaplan of the baid din, is Rabbi Kaplan of Maryland (and DC)’s brother. Rabbi Shemtov is father to one of the parties. Rabbi K has known issues with one of the parties. And the list goes on and on. Instead of allowing this to continue, the Rabbonim should insist that all Nogea B’dovors should recuse themselves from such disputed. Both on the BD and the Boards that (supposedly) oversee the Shlichus operations.

    Until this hodg-podge of nepotism is nipped in the bud, and the BD issues clear, concise, and non-ambiguous rulings, we are going to be privy of more of the same. And being that the older generation is (over)staffing their operations with their next-of-kin even during their lifetime, there is little hope that anything will change even as the older folks retire and move on.

    A shame indeed.

  • Wrong is wrong is wrong

    Levi Shemtov. you are wrong and this public smearing of your public persona came about only because you thought you and your Daddy will just bully Yudi to the corner using all the clout you both have.

    Sof ganif letliah. At the end you besmerched your
    and your daddy’s own reputation.

    Not many would have the guts that Yudi has to stand up to all this bullying. Too bad members of Aguch and Tzach didn’t have the guts to stand up against
    to what they know in their hearts was wrong from
    the beginning.

    Too bad that your akshanos and arrogance brought all the unnecessary chilul Hashem and Lubavitch.

    Of course you are not to blame. Who would have thought that this aydeler yungerman from an aydel tzugekumenir family would have the koach to stand up against the Shemtovs???

    Well, you were wrong again.

  • split apart

    Having survived the split in Chicago, and the fallout when the fired shluchim stayed around doing their own thing- its bad news. Steiners should find themselves a place elsewhere where they are either independent or more compatible with their boss, and can be of real service. Nothing good can come from this if they stay.
    Many mourned the loss of the fired shluchim here, but we and the community moved forward, the shluchim did not.

  • To get ur facts straight

    I don’t know where you got ur facts from but that is not true. Shemtov refused to go to bais din and he took Steiner to court.
    Like rashi says one who takes a case to court is embarrassing Hashem, keep that in mind shemtov

  • You be the judge

    This article does a great job portraying the rabbis. Shemtov as the boss, what are his accomplisents political connections….. Yudi is portrayed as the fun rabbi, his accomplishments bringing students closer to yiddishkeit, doing the rebbes shlichis. Now you decide who deserves to be rabbi at gw

  • Yudi

    Amazing rabbi, with amazing strength to stand up against shemtovs. A word of encouragement: goodness prevails(unless shemtov uses some of his connections to bribe a judge)

  • The article doesn't portray everything

    The article is not the whole picture so don’t judge until you hear the true version of the story.

    Shemtov fired yudi for no reason, they went to beis din and Yudi won. Yudi continued his shlichus, he got a personal gift but shemtov claimed it was a donation and should be given to him. Shemtov did not want to go to bais din and took steiner to court. Merkos told him to take it out or else.., but of course they didnt do anything to him, instead they punish Steiner. Steiner is doing nothing wrong, by standing up for himself

  • #50

    Aidel ?? stubborn, will never give in, won’t budge and change his direction even if it’s wrong!

  • TO #37 - well said

    People are ready to judge others, treat them cruelly, fight them but if you would only think – what if my child would act this way, would I also condemn him and treat him like this? Would I want others to act to him as I am doing to others? Yes, think if the Rebbe is proud of the way you are acting!!!!!

  • FYI

    Everyone should just know that going to court had nothing to do with Steiner , he was called to court by shemtov.

  • Big difference

    There is a big difference between standing up for yourself and being stubborn. so many people have been wronged by this powerful family(shemtov) but no one stood up to them. Steiner is the first one to do so and its a commendable thing and should be supported.

  • #46

    #46 you have a point. shemtov only wants to deal with politicians, whenever someone is in Dc and needs help or a shabbos meal, he doesn’t invite them. I know from personal experience!
    Tip: if ur ever in dc don’t bother calling shemtov(unless ur rich or a politician) call Steiner I’m sure he will be glad to help u

  • #59

    No way is it commendable to make such a chilul lubavitch. Steiner should have worked it out with Shemtov without the court!! Even if it means giving in, even if it means doing without the extra $$$. But he doesn’t care about the consequences, about the harm it causes, as long as he wins! If the Shliach hired him, he needs to have some kabolas ol and if he doesn’t like it and can’t work it out peacefully, then leave!! But DON”T MAKE A CHILUL HASHEM AND CHILUL LUBAVITCH which must be avoided at all costs!!
    The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I hear that his father has that same trait – will not change direction even if it’s wrong, even if it will do harm.

  • TO #58

    If Steiner would have cooperated then there would be no court. He definitely could have avoided it. But he would not give in!!

  • A non Lubavitch Flatbush Resident

    This article pretty much sums up lubavitch in about 100 words

    • replying..

      Gone to the litvish system and having sfard background myself um… the litvish and sfard pple have their own stories so pls practice before u preach. Hashem wants us to behave/act/live the way He asked us to in His Torah, now when pple don’t……but it has nothing what to do with lubavitchers, it happens all over.