After a close vote, the Student Governing Board agreed to recognize Jewish cultural group Chabad Student Center at a town hall on Monday night.
SGB recognition will provide Chabad with further funding and access to campus space.
The governing board, which oversees funding for religious, political, activist, ideological, and spiritual groups, also recognized four other new campus groups, but Chabad’s recognition was the most hotly contested.
Many audience members inquired about how Chabad would distinguish itself from the other 40-plus organizations that fall under Columbia/Barnard Hillel, the umbrella group encompassing most Jewish organizations on campus.
Chabad said its distinguishing quality was its Hasidic philosophy of Judaism.
“Chabad and Hillel are different, the same way that the College Republicans and Democrats are … coexisting but different,” Rikki Feuerstein, CC ’13, said.
The group has been active on campus since 1997. “We haven’t been able to get the word out as much as we would have liked to,” Feuerstein said in explaining the group’s motivation for seeking recognition.
She added that Chabad, formerly known as the Chai Society, used to be recognized by Hillel, but “that didn’t work out for a lot of reasons.”
Chabad Resource Center of Columbia University is directed by Rabbi Yonah Blum and his wife Keren.