After 16 years of directing the Rohr Chabad Jewish Student Center at Tulane University in New Orleans, Rabbi Yochanan and Sarah Rivkin are expanding their operations.
They’re adding Rabbi Leibel and Mushka Lipskier to the mix—one of 20 new Chabad on Campus couples going out on shlichus this year; in this case, joining the existing emissaries at the academic institution.
“We felt there was a need to have a Chabad that serves the graduate students, in addition to a Chabad that serves the undergraduates,” says Rabbi Rivkin, so he and his wife will now focus on that sector of the student body.
Lipskier, the new director of undergraduate programming for Chabad at Tulane, and his wife will be taking over the current Chabad House at Tulane. The couple and their two children—Mendel, 4; and Levi, 15 months—moved this month to New Orleans from Crown Heights.
The Lipskiers will work to connect with the estimated 2,000 Jewish undergraduate students on Tulane’s campus, while the Rivkins will reach out to an estimated 500 Jewish graduate students.
“They’re going to bring a new energy to the undergraduate program,” says Rabbi Rivkin of the new couple. “They are extremely passionate about the work that Chabad does on campus.”
Lipskier and his wife both have siblings who run campus Chabads, and so they jumped at the opportunity to run similar programming. “We both have a specific interest in impacting students,” says the rabbi.
Mushka Lipskier (nee Cohen), who grew up in an emissary family in Montreal, is eager to “really get to know” Tulane’s many Jewish students. She says she values the opportunity to have an impact on them and to learn from them as well.
“College is a pivotal time in their lives,” she says. “There are so many choices, and many are on their own,” away from their families for the first time. “These are important years to tap into their Judaism.”
The couple has already organized “Welcome Week,” a back-to-school barbecue and a resource fair as the students start to return to campus.
In addition to regular Shabbat dinners, services, social and educational programs, and one-on-one meetings with students, Mushka Lipskier will also hold challah-making classes and a monthly women’s group. “I want them to learn about powerful Jewish women in history,” she says.