The Center is a place in Miami, Florida that helps Jewish youth with the difficult challenges of crossing the ‘bridge’ of transitioning to young adulthood and the accompanying search for identity, purpose, and meaning that comes with it.
What started in our founder, Matis Abarbanel’s living room 7 years ago, has grown into a thriving youth center that has positively touched the lives of 1,000’s of Jewish youth in South Florida, and brought countless young men back to Judaism.
One of the regular boys that come to The Center named Dave had come from a frum home and “temporarily” gone off the path. We were working closely with Dave and he was getting stronger in his Judaism and B”H on his way back on track.
There was one challenge, Dave came to me and told me he wanted to start keeping Shabbat, but that he works as security guard at a very luxurious hotel on Miami Beach and Shabbat is part of his work schedule, and there was no way to get that day off. I told him to speak to his boss (a non-Jew named Boris) and tell his boss that he is Jewish and needs the day off for religious reasons.
Dave was reluctant and told me that everyone asks for Saturday off and there was no way Boris would allow it. I told him to try anyways and to be sincere and see what happens.
A couple of days later, Dave went to Boris and requested Shabbat off, Boris’s response was not very positive to say the least. Boris laughed at him and told him, “You and every one of the hundreds of employees that work here has some reason to take Saturday off!”
Dave came to The Center to tell me what happened. “David, do you really want to keep Shabbat?” I asked him. He told me yes. “Pray to Hashem, pray to Hashem with all your heart, and He will surely help,” I advised him. He promised that he would and went on his way.
A few days later David showed up to a farbrengen at The Center with his face radiating with joy. “Matis, you won’t believe what happened!” Dave proceeded to tell his story to 50 young Jewish guys in the midst of the farbrengen.
“That night I sat in my bed and prayed with all my heart to G-d that He help me to keep my job (he had been working at that hotel for many years and had a good position there) and also keep the Shabbat. The next day I was at work and was telling the fitness instructor, Debbie, who is a friend of mine, about my situation and how bad I wanted to keep the Shabbat but that Boris refused to let me have the day off.
A couple of days later I was at my post and the owner of the hotel (a local Florida business man worth over a billion dollars) came over to me and addressed me by name. When he called me “David” I almost fainted, and asked him how he knew who I was.
He smiled and said, “David, I understand that you want to keep the Shabbat and would like Friday night and Saturday off.” David was in complete disbelief as the owner of the resort continued, “David, I myself am Jewish, and although I’m not practicing at this point in my life, I respect you so much for wanting to get closer to your religion, I personally will speak to Boris and you have my word that you will never have to work a Shabbat again.”
David later found out that his friend Debbie knew the owner of the resort very well and shared David’s plight with him, and that is how he found out and subsequently spoke to David.
This is just one of the countless miracle stories we have experienced at The Center where we offer Jewish youth a warm, fun, and positive environment where they feel comfortable to express themselves and discuss their problems openly and freely without being judged.
Furthermore, we provide them with the requisite tools to overcome these challenges, and guide them towards discovering their own unique and fulfilling life purpose.
The Center will be joining many other Jewish at-risk inreach organizations for a 24 hour campaign day Tuesday April 12 at 2pm. Stay tuned for details.