building History in Oberlin
It all began exactly a year ago, Oberlin College, a small liberal arts college in rural Ohio was thrust into the nation news spotlight. In recent months our little school in the corn fields has been named the “most liberal college” and found it’s name on the list of “Worst school for Jewish students”.
So how did we earn such accolades? Well, it all began with tensions in the community and then a discovery of a professor who had been posting material on social media that many interpreted as antisemitic and propagating antisemitic tropes. This complicated the already difficult Israel conversation on campus, made discussing Jewish identity a bit discomforting, and challenged the entire campus. Another fallout was alumni showing their discontent by withholding donations.
This hit home because Chabad was in the middle of a construction project and one substantial pledge was revoked by an alumni supporter as a statement of their displeasure.
In true Chabad fashion, in the face of difficult times, we have doubled our efforts and made sure to bring pride and joy in celebrating Jewish identity. Our students have answered in kind. More students than ever have been joined us around our Shabbos table (average of 100 per week), students have shared creative works on their Jewish identity at our unique How Do You Jew series, and more students this past semester have engaged in one-on-one or group studying of spirituality and Jewish texts than ever before.
All of this happens in our tiny 1,300 square foot Chabad House. To better serve our students and community we must complete construction this semester, which has been paused for several months. The new location will be the first permanent Jewish space on campus devoted to be open 24 hours a day, where students can find a home away from home. The new space includes a dining room that can accommodate the ever-growing crowds, a kitchen than can handle the output to prepare the thousands of meals prepared each semester, a library/classroom, an office for counseling and meetings with the Rabbi or Devorah, and a detached student lounge where students can gather, study, or just enjoy some kosher nosh.
Come January next year, when all of the news outlets are doing their review, we are determined that Oberlin College will be listed as the BEST place for Jewish students, with a full time center devoted to Jewish life and programming unparalleled.
Chabad at Oberlin has a unique opportunity, with one generous matching donor we can make up the funds pulled after last years unfortunate events. We must have the funds secured by January 1st 2017, please join us in building a strong and healthy Jewish future at Oberlin College and make a contribution to our building fund at www.matchathon.com/oberlin