Chabad rabbi recognized as national Jewish leader

Posted on Feb 12, 2019 in Campus News and News

Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel | Photo courtesy of The Forward
Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel, co-director of the Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Life at KU, says his recent honor of being named to The Forward magazine’s 2018 Forward 50 list—which recognizes “American Jews who have had a profound impact on the American Jewish community or on the national situation”—represents praise for KU as a whole more than it reflects his personal work or Chabad Center outreach.

Rabbi Zalman, as he is known within the Chabad community and across campus, doesn’t know how he was identified for the honor, but he’s glad it came.

“How did they pick it up? I’m not sure,” he says. “I think it’s because of the number of things that happened in the last year that triggered a very strong response, whether it was the kosher kitchen here at KU, whether it was the goodness and kindness campaign, but more than that, I think it’s the fact that it surprises people that in a small town in Kansas, in the middle of America, there’s such vibrant Jewish life.

“People don’t realize how much of a diverse and fascinating community KU really is.”

Working in concert with KU Dining, Rabbi Zalman helped launched dedicated kosher dining, available for the past year at South Dining Commons, a program that he says will expand next fall. In the wake of disturbing mass shootings both in downtown Lawrence and Las Vegas, Chabad created a “Good Card” program that encouraged random acts of kindness, which Chabad followed up with an ark coin-bank program to benefit Lawrencians in need.

Citing 13 years of leadership in Lawrence by Rabbi Zalman and his wife, Nechama, The Forward wrote, “Working from the Rohr Chabad Center, the Tiechtels have done their bit to make KU home to their growing band of Jewhawks.”

Rabbi Zalman praises KU’s diverse student body, as well as leadership decisions that have helped create a welcoming campus within a Midwestern public university where outsiders might not initially expect to find such a hospitable community.

“It’s a big statement. It says a lot about KU, to have been recognized at such a level in the global Jewish community,” he says. “It says a lot about how open and how diverse and how embracing KU as an institution is. This is what this makes us so special: all of the beautiful, different, colorful expressions that we have in this community.

“That’s why everyone loves KU, because of its very unique family spirit.”

—Chris Lazzarino

Image courtesy of The Forward magazine and used with permission

Tags: , ,