By COLlive reporter
Photos: Yitz Epstein
Community members, supporters and friends of Chabad of Bakersfield, California, joined for the building dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony of the Setton-Cohen Chabad Jewish community center on Sunday.
Rabbi Shmuli Schlanger, who with his wife Esther Malka established Chabad 15 years ago in the city 100 miles north of Los Angeles, welcomed the guests, and thanked friends and family from across the world who helped support the purchase and renovation of the building, and for making it a reality.
Chabad of Bakersfield, formerly run out the Schlanger’s home and later a storefront location, will have plenty of room for their educational programs, Shabbat and Holiday services, Hebrew School and other events, at the new 10,000 square foot center.
The former tennis club was purchased by Chabad of Bakersfield 3 months ago, and renovations were done quickly so as to welcome the community in time for the upcoming High Holidays.
Once all the renovations are complete, the building will contain a Sanctuary, social hall, full commercial kitchen, recreation room, educational wing, and patio for a Sukkah and outdoor events.
The lush 2 acre property also includes a tennis court, gardens, basketball court and Olympic size swimming pool.
Mrs. Mia Cohen, wife of Mr. Lee Cohen, and daughter of philanthropist Mr. Joshua Setton, gave a heart-warming speech, thanking Rabbi and Mrs. Schlanger, and specifically their children, for their 15 years of dedication and sacrifice serving the community and bringing Judaism to Bakersfield and surrounding areas.
The Mayor of Bakersfield, Karen Goh, addressed the crowd, quoting from the Tehillim. “Mizmor Shir Chanukas Habayis Ledovid,” said Mayor Goh, thanking the Schlangers and saying that she looks forward to another center for goodness and kindness in Bakersfield.
The Setton and Cohen families then cut the ribbon and placed the Mezuzah on the main entrance, which is decorated with a 25 foot mural of the 10 Commandments, painted by local artist Rochelle Steinke.
The Ira and Carol Cohen Education Wing, consisting of offices, children’s classroom, Jewish craft room and Judaica library, was dedicated by Mr. Ira Cohen, who was honored with placing the Mezuzah.
Hundreds of community members then gathered for a festive meal catered by Unique Pastry of Tarzana, along with live music and l’chaims.
Rabbi Schlanger says he looks forward to the community growing and expanding by leaps and bounds with the opening of the new, larger center, as they continue to bring the light and life of Judaism “to the desert of Bakersfield.”
“In addition to serving our local community, we regularly host schools from all over the West Coast,” Rabbi Schlanger said. “We look forward to opening our center to students and children to be inspired and run and play in beautiful surroundings,” he said.