Chabad of Orange County, led by Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston, held a Groundbreaking Celebration, marking the construction that began for the new Chabad Campus.
Located on Gilbert Street, in the heart of the Village of Monroe, the campus is just off of Route 17, making it easily accessible to all of Orange County, which Chabad serves. The foundation has already been poured for the 10,000 square-foot, $3 million-dollar building.
The state-of-the-art center will include a synagogue/social hall, Kosher commercial kitchen, library, teen lounge, classrooms, staff suite, offices, Sukkah/pergola terrace and patio. The 7-acre campus will include the building, ample parking, playground and recreation areas as well as rabbi’s residence.
More than 200 gathered to celebrate the milestone event, from all corners of Orange County. A “L’Chaim Mimosa Bar” awaited celebrants as they entered the scenic campus. On each seat was a Chabad swag bag filled with goodies: A delicious sandwich, cold water, Chabad Campus Cookie, an event program and Building Dedication Opportunities card. Kids were entertained with an incredible balloon artist and adults and children alike beat the heat with complimentary cool refreshments from a Kosher ice-cream truck. The “Grow with Us” planting table featured an array of “Flowers for the Soul, planted with Synagogue Soil,” using earth from the synagogue building site.
The celebration began with some speeches and prayers. “Together, for 17 years, we built a community, but we didn’t have a home to put it in,” explained Rabbi Pesach as he greeted the crowd. The foundation of a building is not cement, he added, but a community. “Chabad’s modus-operandi is unique. Many synagogues start with a community and look for a rabbi. Chabad started with a rabbi and then looked to establish a community.
Little by little – or yidle by yidle – since 2004, we grew into a full-service, flourishing, dynamic and vibrant center for Jewish life, attracting people from all corners of the county.” Chabad served the community through various rental spaces and halls. “It felt like the wandering Jews; we had an identity, but no permanent structure. Now, we are finally building this ‘house’ to put it in! A place where everything can be under one roof.”
Rabbi Yisroel Rubin of Albany, Chabad Regional Director of Eastern New York State and the Capital District, read a letter of the Rebbe. A Prayer for Israel was led by Monroe resident Guy Einav, a former sergeant in the Israel Defense Force. Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus and Village of Monroe Mayor Neil Dwyer spoke of the impact of Chabad on the Orange County community.
Moving presentations were made by members of the community on “What Chabad Means to Me.” Youngsters Yasmine Mosker and Ava Lejovitzky-Reich spoke of the “Top 10 reasons we love Chabad and look forward to the new building.” Alumnus Shaina Steir spoke about how Chabad was there for her during the good times and the bad, and continues to be there for her through all ages and stages. Dr. Yasmine Kalkstein, a professor at West Point Military Academy spoke how Chabad always finds creative ways to make Judaism engaging and relevant in today’s day and age – even during the pandemic.
Chana Burston introduced the students of Chabad Hebrew School “who are the future” and awarded each student for their accomplishment during this past year in Hebrew School (which was offered both in-person and online).
Rabbi Pesach encouraged participants to become partners of the new center by dedicating and donating by visiting www.ChabadOrange.com/Building
Chana then offered participants to “Dig into your Jewish future” and take turns taking a photo while digging into the ground of the new center.