RICHARD DYMOND – Bradenton.com
Tireless could be the best word to describe Rabbi Mendy Bukiet and his wife, Chanie, who celebrated the fifth birthday of Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch on Friday.
It seems the doors to Chabad are always open and a program of some sort is going on at 11509 Palmbrush Trail.
In honor of its five years of existence, the local Chabad is instituting five new programs for 2009, Rabbi Bukiet said.
“It will touch the entire Jewish dynamic of Lakewood Ranch and Bradenton,” Rabbi Bukiet said.
“It will go from oldest to youngest, from winter to summer, to everyone in the entire Chabad family.”
Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch has grown steadily from humble roots.
“We started meeting in our Lakewood Ranch home in 2004 and we had just a handful of families,” Rabbi Bukiet said.
“Now, we are touching 500 to 600 Jewish families on a constant basis. It’s been surprising and wonderful. But we are not satisfied with the past. We would like that the next five years should have more success and that the Jewish community should grow stronger and we should accomplish more.”
The Chabad provides social, educational, recreational and religious programming.
While the programs are across the board, the Bukiets seem to set a special place at their Chabad table for children.
Chabad Hebrew School, led by Chanie Bukiet, has grown steadily from 12 students to 40 since it started in 2005, Rabbi Bukiet said.
“The school provides an unparalleled opportunity to instill in children a sense of Jewish pride and awareness,” Chanie Bukiet said. “CHS students look forward to Hebrew School all week long.”
Beginning Aug. 30, the Chabad will offer a teen program for high school and middle-school kids, the Bukiets said.
The program is titled, “Teen Scene, A Jewish Educational Experience.”
“This program was conceived, written and developed by Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch with the help of Jewish teens in the area,” Rabbi Bukiet said.
“It addresses modern- day issues such as abortion, suicide and self-harm, drugs and alcohol, extreme sports and avoiding danger as well as the value of money and life and one’s obligation to strangers.
“The curriculum is fresh and scintillating and guaranteed to spark lively discussion and debate,” he said.
That could be a fitting tag line for this active Chabad as well.