Home. That’s what Chabad of Solano County found on the cusp of the new year, and what it hopes to remain for generations to come.
“This is really a historical event,” explained Rabbi Chaim Zaklos with Chabad. “It’s a new beginning. I like to say this is the greatest Hanukkah gift that the Jewish community got. … The excitement is beyond (anything).”
Chabad, an organization founded in 2009 that describes itself as a “vibrant home for Jewish life in Solano County,” previously operated out of the Hampton Inn & Suites in Vacaville. It hosts all manner of classes and activities and events, such as the annual Menorah on Main lighting.
The Solano branch was created to reach out to those who had formerly traveled to Sacramento or the Bay Area for services, studies and more and was welcomed with open arms, Zaklos said. But space was limited and a permanent residence desperately needed.
“We always knew it was a dream,” he remembered. “We thought, 5-10 years down the line.”
But on Sept. 11, 2014, officials heard the location at 730 East Main St., formerly the headquarters of Discovery Church, was for sale. They took a look, made a move and by New Year’s Eve, had closed escrow on the building.
It was a community effort, Zaklos emphasized. Apparently three major sponsors were willing to give $50,000 each if the community could come up with another $50,000.
“Over 200 members in the community came forward to give $10-$10,000,” the rabbi said. “So in 3 1/2 months, this whole project came together.”
And so the Chabad of Solano County Center for Jewish Life came to be.
The building’s been secured, but there’s a lot still to be done. Painting, some remodeling, decorating, furnishing.
“We hope to have everything ready before the High Holy Days,” Zaklos said.
The two-story Vacaville digs include 15 rooms spread over 9,000 feet. The hope is to turn the space into a place that addresses all aspects of Jewish life.
Among myriad rooms set aside for office space, many have also been designated for youth areas and lounges.
Also mapped out are a spacious sanctuary, library and study hall, conference room, children’s play and learning center, Hebrew school, and a dining hall and social lounge.
Future plans include a kosher commercial kitchen for meat and dairy, a kosher market, a kosher cafe and deli, indoor playground and the first Jewish Children’s Museum in Northern California.
The first service in the new building has been held and community feedback has been amazing, Zaklos said. He recalled a member, a Vacaville resident since the 1960s, who simply cried.
“Can you imagine the generations to come?” he asked. “Can you imagine what great Jewish leaders we’ll have come from here?”
All are welcome at Chabad, he continued.
“We want people to feel it’s their own by participating and making it beautiful. … It’s creating a home for God and creating a home for the community,” the rabbi said. “This will be the kind of glue to bring the community together. This place would be a place where everyone will feel comfortable to come together and find their niche where all their Jewishness comes out.
“I want them to know this is their home. This is your home. You can find a place here. You can express your connection to God, your connection to your heritage. Everybody is welcome here.”