Rabbi Dovie and Chaya Shapiro of Chabad of Flagstaff in northern Arizona are taking the matching grants model to the extreme: $1=$20.
Through raising $150,000, they hope to bring in $3 million in an all or nothing campaign to build a new Chabad center in northern Arizona.
Since 2006, the Shapiros have been serving local Jews, students at Northern Arizona University (NAU) and the tourists that pass through Flagstaff on their way to the Grand Canyon and other wonders of nature that northern Arizona has to offer.
Working out of a small storefront, they knew it was a matter of time before they would need to expand into a center that would accommodate their growing operation.
A small town located 7,000 feet above sea level, Flagstaff has a diverse Jewish population, a significant Jewish student body and many tourists and vacationers who come to enjoy the pristine snow and other outdoor attractions.
Back in 2010, with help from George and Pamela Rohr and Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Chabad of Flagstaff purchased a centrally located 2-acre parcel of land on University Avenue.
Although they did not yet have the funds to build on the property, they and their community luxuriated in the fantasy of what a state-of-the-art center would mean for them.
Among them were Michael and Carmen Blank, whose mother Molly Blank had been a self-made businesswoman. After being widowed at a young age, Molly Blank raised two sons and managed the family’s mail-order pharmaceutical business, turning it into a thriving operation that was later sold to a large retail conglomerate.
When Molly Blank passed away in January of 2015, her children decided to dedicate $2 million from the Molly Blank Fund toward the new Chabad center in Flagstaff.
“It has been amazing to see the Jewish presence in Flagstaff and NAU grow from a very small group to a thriving community,” they said in a statement. “It will be remarkable for the community and NAU students to finally have a beautiful new center to call their own.”
But the gift came with strings attached: the Shapiros would need to raise $1 million of their own.
Over the past months, friends of Chabad of Flagstaff have donated generously, and the Shapiros are just over halfway to their goal. But with less than a month left to bring in $500,000, they are now turning to a matching-funds campaign to bring in the rest.
Through the help of 5 generous donors, they hope that $150,000 of donations will equal $500,000, which will push them over the top of their $1 million fundraising target and allow them to receive the additional $2 million from the Molly Blank Fund.
In addition to classrooms, synagogue, social hall, mikvah and campgrounds, the proposed center will be designed to accommodate weekend retreats and reunions, allowing Jews from all over the world to enjoy its amenities.
“The new center will be a Jewish oasis for NAU students, community members, and travelers from around the world” said the Blanks.
“It will provide a place to connect with Jewish peers, learn about our shared heritage and create lasting Jewish experiences. Creating a space for Judaism to blossom in the high desert is important to us and supporting the new community center is one way to instill this communal value in our children and grandchildren.”
To join Chabad of Flagstaff’s building campaign and help them take advantage of their $2 million gift, visit JewishFlagstaff.com/BringItHome.