Surprising revelation: Chabad club already chartered due to oversight
The Chabad at Brandeis went before the Student Senate last week, requesting to be recognized after being told by Rabbi Alan Lehmann that they had been de-chartered last year. However, the Chabad at Brandeis was never actually de-chartered. The assumption that the club had been de-chartered was merely the result of miscommunication. There was a breakdown in communication because the only person who was listed as a contact for the club on the myBrandeis Web site was not a Brandeis student, but Rabbi Peretz Chein, a rabbi at the Chabad house located on Turner Street in Waltham. As a result no one was contacted about the club not filling out the appropriate forms and it was removed from mybrandeis.edu. However, the senate never voted to do so as the club was removed was prematurely.
For a club to remain chartered each semester, the club president or a member of the club must fill out a hazing form, a financial responsibility form, and go through an on-line renewal process, which updates the myBrandeis contact information. The Student Senate sends out several e-mails reminding club presidents and members to fill out this paperwork to avoid being de-chartered.
Eventually, an e-mail to the entire school is sent out listing the clubs that are in danger of being de-chartered. This allows any member of the endangered clubs to fill out the necessary forms to remain chartered. Chabad was able to slip through the cracks because no students were listed as contacts and therefore, no one was contacted directly to submit the necessary forms for renewal.
"Clubs should always have a Brandeis student as a contact," Lemansky said. Although no members of Chabad ever came forth to renew the necessary forms, it was not officially de-chartered because "we never contacted anyone," Lemansky said.
"But they were taken off of myBrandeis," said Union President Josh Brandfon '05, "Whoever did club renewal (on myBrandeis) took them (Chabad) off." The list of clubs on myBrandeis include only those clubs that are chartered, therefore, Rabbi Lehmann's assumption that Chabad had been de-chartered was not unreasonable.
Acting president of the Chabad at Brandeis Sarah Slone '06 said, "Rabbi Lehmann said that Chabad was not on the Web site and assumed that we were not chartered." Upon discovering this, people currently involved with Chabad decided to go about getting re-chartered.
Members of the Union Senate also believed that Chabad had been de-chartered because "usually, when a club is under that impression, they are because they are notified (that they were de-chartered)," Brandfon said. "When they came and said that they were de-chartered, we put them through the whole process of getting chartered."
Lemansky commented that the Student Senate checked the myBrandeis Web site to see if Chabad was listed there. Seeing that they were not listed verified their assumption that Chabad had been de-chartered and they allowed them to go forward with the chartering process. It was only later, when members of the Executive Board searched the archives that they noticed that Chabad had never actually been de-chartered.
Originally Chabad was instructed to talk to Hillel. We thought that it would be a good idea to talk to Hillel," Brandfon said. "We didn't say that they have to go under Hillel. It's just smart to do that. It's the primary provider of Jewish life on campus." Chabad however, chose not to be incorporated under the Hillel umbrella organization because they desired more autonomy.
"You have much more autonomy when chartered directly," Slone said. "When under Hillel, you have to be able to coordinate with the other organizations. You don't have quite as much autonomy in practical aspects. The main thing was autonomy."
Slone expressed a desire to work in conjunction with Hillel, although she saw Hillel and Chabad as possessing different philosophies. "We promote a different philosophy than Hillel's. They are not opposing philosophies at all. If you have a philosophy that you would like to spread on campus, it's better to have autonomy. They are different philosophies, not better or worse."
Slone sees Hillel's goal as Jewish outreach, "Jews doing Jewish things with Jews," she said she believed was Hillel's philosophy. She saw Chabad's philosophy as an encompassing one that focused on wisdom, comprehension and knowledge. These three components are those that create the Hebrew acronym, 'Chabad.' Chabad's philosophy is that, "you should take every opportunity and every person and find the spark of holiness in them and within every experience," Slone said, noting that Chabad's goal is to spread awareness of this philosophy, although they engage in Jewish outreach as well.