Judge Posner's Delightfully Jewy Legal Ruling

An Orthodox Jew wears a reggae costume as he buys a bottle of wine on Purim / Getty Images

Last Thursday, prominent judge and University of Chicago professor Richard Posner offered his decision on Lubavitch-Chabad v. Northwestern University. The case was brought against the university after it disaffiliated itself with its former Chabad organization. The Chabad house had repeatedly served alcohol to underage students after being warned not to do so by the university. Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, the Chabad chapter’s head rabbi, sued Northwestern, claiming that it was discriminating against Chabad Jews.

Legal decisions are usually painfully dry, but Posner wrote an entertaining — and very Jewish — response to the case. He inserted links to Wikipedia pages and Youtube videos and gave some unexpected background on Judaism to inform the reader. For example, since the case involved underage drinking, Posner gave a possible explanation for Rabbi Klein’s motivation:

Another highlight of the opinion is Posner’s attempt to tackle a popular question: Is Judaism a religion, an ethnicity, or both?

Judge Bauer, another one of the presiding judges in the case, emphasized the originality — and sheer entertainment value — of Posner’s opinion. In his concurring opinion, Bauer wrote:

Posner’s ruling, which ultimately sided with Northwestern, may not have made Chabad happy — but it sure delighted others.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.


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Judge Posner's Delightfully Jewy Legal Ruling

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