What do Kabbalah and Chicken Soup have in common? A great Torah class for adults at Chabad of Orange County!
On Tuesday, July 22nd, Chabad held a barbecue event marking 10 years of Chabad’s Adult Education classes in Orange County. The event was held at the home Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston in Monroe, and was attended by many current and past participants of the classes. Rabbi Pesach is the director of director of Chabad of Orange County, and also teaches the class.
“Our Adult Education classes have been initiated by you, the community, 10 years ago this summer!” Rabbi Pesach explained at the gathering.
“When we moved to Orange County,” Rabbi Pesach reminisced, “we did not come with answers; we came with questions, ‘what Jewish programming would you like?’ The response was for a Kabbalah class offered to the public. Thus, the ‘Kabbalah & Chicken Soup’ weekly Torah class, held almost every Tuesday night since summer 2004, began.”
Classes have been going strong ever since. In fact, many students who initiated the class a decade ago still come to the weekly class.
Classes were offered in the rabbi’s home as well as in the then Jewish Community Center in Harriman. Now classes are offered at Chabad’s center in Chester.
“There are several things that bring the Jewish people together: Torah, food and camaraderie,” Rabbi Pesach explained. “Our classes have been doing all three!”
So did the barbecue.
The gathering incorporated great food, friends and food-for-thought.
“My wife and I love to come to this class together,” says David Dixler of Monroe, who, along with his wife Michele, have been participating from the very first class. “Traditionally, many synagogue programs have been offered to men and women separately,” he explained, “But this is a class that we can both participate in together. We look forward to it every week!”
“The Tuesday evening ‘Kabbalah & Chicken Soup’ class has been a rich and spiritual experience for myself and others in the community,” says Linda Schwartz of Monroe, a community activist and long-time participant of the class. Turning to Rabbi Pesach, she said, “Your gifts of knowledge, warmth, humor, compassion and support have brought us all closer to Torah.”
“Over the 10 years we have learned a lot of Torah, but I have also learned a lot about myself,” said Lester Pleeter of Chester, who, also with his wife Shirley has been attending the classes since 2004.
May students have joined over the years. Siggy Toback of Middletown started attending classes a year ago, and attended the BBQ along with his wife, Sue. “Attending the Torah classes have returned me to Judaism. I am especially appreciative because of the great journey which I have undertaken thanks to you. I thank you for being so instrumental and supportive.” Siggy has also taken Chabad’s Hebrew Reading class for adults, taught by Phyllis Goetz of Monroe, and is now a fluent reader and enjoys participating is synagogue services!
The event concluded with a talk by author Harold Berman, a Monroe native, now visiting from Israel, who shared his remarkable story, “From a Church Choir to Jerusalem: An Unlikely Journey to Judaism.”
“In ten years we studies lots of Torah and cooked many pots of chicken soup!” Rabbi Pesach concluded. “And we look forward to many more decades to come!”
The barbecue was sponsored by Jim Rogers, Henry and Samira Galler, Gil and Phyllis Goetz and Harold Berman.