Frequently Asked Questions...




Is what you think about Chabad MYTH or FACT? You may be surprised.  Take a few minutes to browse through these FAQ and you'll have a better understanding of what Chabad is all about.


Q: To participate in programs offered by Chabad, do I have to be orthodox, a beginner, or just looking for some rich life experience?

A: Chabad at Columbia University is inclusive and non-judgmental, and our programs are open to all students, faculty, and Columbia/Barnard community members.  In fact, the people who participate in Chabad programs are of such diverse backgrounds and hold of a variety of different beliefs, it is impossible to categorize them.  The teachings of Chabad are imbued with Chassidic spirit and joy, and the basic principal that all of G‑d's creations are equally vital-and therefore, equally respected.


Q:Is it the goal of Chabad at Columbia University to make me Orthodox?

A: Chabad is not out to make one Orthodox.  Chabad is an educational organization dedicated to Jewish knowledge, enthusiasm, and pride.  Chabad invites you to explore the complex areas of Jewish faith, tradition, and practice in an open-minded and non-judgmental atmosphere.  We feel that with knowledge, one will have the power to make trully informed decisions about Judaism and the role it should play in one's life.  Each individual is invited to participate, study, and learn.  Each individual makes his or her own respective religious lifestyle decisions.


Q:Then what is the goal of Chabad at Columbia University?

A: Central to Chabad's philosophy is that the world was created with a great purpose in mind.  That purpose is peace for everyone, everywhere.  In classic Jewish literature, this time of peace is referred to as redemption.  Redemption is a time when people will no longer suffer, and there will be no more war.  The great Jewish sages teach that humankind can achieve this era of peace through a pervasive and conscious effort to be more kind to one another - from the thoughts we think, to the words we speak, down to the details of our daily actions. 


Q:Does Chabad at Columbia University consider Reform, Conservative, or non-practicing Jews as "real" Jews?

A: Chabad avoids labeling other Jews, since it tends to divide and create barriers.  Jewish Law has traditionally considered anyone born of a Jewish mother or converted in accordance with Jewish Law to be a Jew, regardless of his or her degree of observance. 


Q:  Does Chabad at Columbia University accept converts?

A: Chabad follows traditional Jewish Law which states that any non-Jewish person who feels sincerely convinced of the beauty and relevance of Torah, who is prepared to follow the traditions of Israel, and therefore, wishes to join the community of Israel, is welcomed as a convert.  The conversion process requires immersion in a kosher mikveh, circumcision for men, and most important is acceptance of the disciplines and practices of Judaism - all under authorized rabbinic supervision.


Q: Does Chabad at Columbia University in particular and Chabad in general support Israel?

A: Chabad believes deeply in defending Israel and its right to exist, throughout all its boundaries.  Many Chabad chassidim serve in the Israeli Defense Forces and others contribute practical and spiritual support to the troops.  Chabad international has over 150 centers in Israel, as well as dozens of educational facilities around the country.  Chabad trained Rabbis often complete their training is Israeli yeshivot.


Q: Is Chabad at Columbia University financed by its headquarters in New York?

A: It is Chabad policy that each center is supported by the community it serves.  All funding for local Chabad programs is solicited locally.  No money is sent to international Chabad headquarters in New York.  All funds donated remain right here in our community.


Q:Do women occupy a secondary position in Chabad philosophy and communal life?

A: A position different from the position of men, yes. Secondary to the status of men, No!  The high standing position of Jewish women in Chabad is central to the survival of Judaism; historically women have served as leaders, prophetesses, educators, and yes, mothers.   Jewish women are the cornerstone of the Jewish family-whether they have another career outside the home or not.  In turn, the Jewish family is the cornerstone of Jewish life and survival.


Through pathways unique to women, Judaism offers women equal potential to attain a profound and meaningful spirituality, one that fulfills her deepest needs and aspirations opening fresh perspectives on self-understanding, growth and Torah knowledge.  Ignorance, misconceptions, and outright myths about Jewish women have prevailed until very recently, turning many people away from an appreciation of Torah and a traditional Jewish lifestyle. Chabad Resource Center of Columbia University, Inc. is working to correct those misconceptions.