Rabbi Steiner recalled his inspiration for this initiative: the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Ever since, the Steiners have been passionate about bringing kosher food to campus. Years ago, they made a first foray into campus dining with ready-made kosher sandwiches; but that didn’t take off.
Then, in 2014, as tensions rose for Jewish students amid the abduction of three Israeli teens from a Gush Etzion bus stop, the university approached Rabbi Steiner
“When the three Jewish boys were kidnapped in Israel and tensions flared up, at that point I was sitting in a meeting with the university, and they asked me, ‘What can we do?’”
“So I posed the question: ‘what do you think terrorists want? What are they trying to accomplish? They’re trying to instill fear. They’re trying to make Jewish students not feel welcome,” Steiner said. “I think you, as a university, have to work hard on making Jewish students feel welcome.”
They asked what that meant, and Steiner said he had two ideas. The first was to allow for a public menorah on Chanukah, in a show of Jewish pride, and the second was that “If we were to bring kosher food to this campus, that would be a huge statement by the university saying, ‘We welcome Jewish students here; we want Jewish students here.’”
The U of MN took that very seriously, and a year or two later, the conversations began. In 2019 Chabad opened their first place: House of Hummus, which featured middle eastern dishes including falafel and tagine. That was open until Covid shut the campus down. Three years later, Chabad has once again been able to once again get kosher food going—and it comes as Jewish students are again facing tension amid terrorism in Israel and a spike in antisemitism on campus.
The new restaurant is called Holy Guacamole, and its glatt kosher Mexican-style offerings include burritos, tacos and more. Students can sit down to a hearty bowl of carne asada steak or adobo chicken, and can feel the warmth of being welcomed to a campus whose faculty—and whose Chabad rabbi—is looking out for them.