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Chabad ‘Drinking’ Suit Against Northwestern Tossed by Federal Judge

A federal judge has dismissed a religious discrimination lawsuit filed against Northwestern University by Lubavitch-Chabad of Illinois.

Judge John Darrah of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois last week ruled that Northwestern University in Evanston Ill. had “legitimate, nondiscriminatory” reasons for disaffiliating with the Tannenbaum Chabad House, the Daily Northwestern student newspaper reported.

The university in September 2012 cut ties with the Chabad House and its director Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein after reports that the rabbi served underage students wine and hard alcohol.

In the lawsuit, Chabad claimed that the university discriminated against the religious organization, disaffiliating with it while campus fraternities and sororities also were guilty of underage drinking.

The judge said in his summary judgment that Chabad was “comparing apples to oranges,” according to the Daily Northwestern. The university has a different disciplinary system for religious groups and fraternities.

The rabbi told the Daily Northwestern that he did not violate any laws because the alcohol was consumed in the framework of a religious ceremony, which is legal according to state law. The university countered that it does not have an exemption for religious meetings.

According to the court documents, a student was taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning at a Chabad party sometime after 2001.

The university investigation came after the father of a 2012 Northwestern graduate expressed concerns to the university about alcohol at Chabad, according to the newspaper, citing court documents.

The Chabad House continues to operate in Evanston, with Klein as its director. It told the student newspaper it would appeal the decision.

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