The long-awaited new head office on Chabad Lubavitch Centres NE London & Essex was opened by the British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis on Wednesday, 27th September.
The center was overflowing with the large audience of invited guests including its Trustees led by its chair Mr Daren Burney, representatives of the Hanhollo and trustees of Lubavitch UK, local Rabonim of the United Synagogue and Federation of Synagogues, local Dignitaries and Community Leaders.
Among them were West Streeting Member of Parliament Ilford North and Mike Gapes Member of Parliament Ilford South, Cllr Linda Huggett, Mayor of Redbridge; Cllrs Alan Weinberg and Ashley Kissin, building sponsors and many friends.
“This has been a fantastic day for everyone involved, a dream come true,” said Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin MBE. “A project like this takes friends and partners and I’m delighted that we secured friends over many years who appreciate and value the vision of Chabad across Essex who has partnered with us to make this new Centre a reality.”
The new center operates as the head office of Chabad North East London and Essex and its Gants Hill Branch, named as Doris Shpiro House, after the grandmother of Andrea and Jonathan Dennis and family who kick-started the financial side of this project.
Emcee for the evening was Gary Boorman, a long established friend and supporter of Chabad locally, who opened with the formal welcome to all gathered.
Chazan Eli Sufrin began with Maariv and a number of appropriate Tehillim encouraging the participants to sing along with him on this joyous occasion.
In her address, Mayor of Redbridge Linda Huggett shared her delight in extolling the virtues of Chabad locally and worldwide, adding that Rabbi and Mrs. Sufrin through Chabad locally have worked closely with the Town Hall and council for some four decades cementing good working relationships with all faith of this multi-cultural borough of Redbridge, in which Chabad is based.
MP Wes Streeting thanked Rabbi Sufrin for his lead on many facets of communal life both within the Jewish faith and beyond. Rabbi Sufrin’s work with this affected by addictions is well recorded and appreciated by so many. He reemphasized his desire to fight anti-Semitism, saying it can never be tolerated.
Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin, Executive Director of Chabad North East London & Essex, shared his delight at reaching this momentous day after a four-year-long building project, having to navigate through many obstacles.
He shared a personal story which occurred on Rosh Hashanah afternoon as he was doing Mivtza Shofar, visiting homes of those unable to come to Shul. With it, he highlighted to the role of a Chabad House, which was not to wait for people to come in but to go forth and seek Yidden out who for one or reason to not engage and light the spark of Yidishkeit found within. He further thanks the Mayor of Redbridge, Members of Parliament, councillor and guests for attending and enhancing the evening.
A special welcome was made to the Chief Rabbi Mirvis, who was invited to affix a Mezuzah on the main hall / Shul and unveil a plaque, formally opening the center before addressing the crowd.
Rabbi Sufrin said the Chief Rabbi for attending and opening the center is a great Chizuk to all the work Chabad locally has achieved since its inception with his parents Rev Aron Dov and Hennie Sufrin’s z”l arrival in Ilford in 1976.
In his address, Chief Rabbi Mirvis captivated the audience with his poignant message, coupled with humor responded by acknowledging Rabbi and Mrs. Sufrin’s long-term commitment to the area and throughout the UK, with their dynamic leadership, friendship and love is shown to all.
The Chief Rabbi acknowledged Rabbi Sufrin’s receipt of an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen which was well deserved for his broad efforts both within the Jewish Community and beyond.
He responded to Rabbi Sufrin’s, request for him to return and open PG the next Chabad Centre in Epping within 2 years as he had done by formerly opening Chabad Essex second branch in Buckhurst Hill under the leadership of Rabbi Odom and Henny Brandman 18 months ago, saying that Bli Neder he hopes he can return within five years to open and even bigger Centre. He also encouraged all to continue their support of Chabad locally and it’s leadership as they continue to spread “light” across Essex.
Mrs Devorah Sufrin, Co-Director of Chabad N E London & Essex closed the evening with a vote of thanks to all who led the opening programme and presented a gift of Seforim on Sukkos of the Rebbe to the Chief Rabbi as a memento and welcome addition to his library.
The evening closed with a buffet reception enjoyed by all.