By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Mendel Friedman and his wife Chaya (nee Feigelstock) have been appointed as the new Shluchim and directors of the recently opened Jewish Learning Center in Winter Haven, Florida.
Approximately 5,000 Jews live in Polk County, albeit dispersed throughout a large geographical area. The vast majority are not affiliated with Jewish institutions. The Friedmans were recruited by Rabbi Moshe and Libby Lazaros, who established Chabad in Lakeland 5 years ago.
“Lakeland is the largest city in the county,” said Rabbi Lazaros, “but Winter Haven is more centrally located. Over the years we’ve met many people who are interested in our programs, but are unable to attend regularly due to the distance. This is one of the most assimilated parts of the country. It’s challenging enough to engage people who haven’t been practicing for many years, to ask them to drive 45-75 minutes each way makes that challenge almost impossible.”
The Jewish Learning Center is easily accessible from the surrounding communities. The Friedmans will begin immediately with adult education classes and holiday programs at the center. Additionally, they are planning to grow the library and launch a Hebrew school in the fall. They will also serve as associate directors at Chabad of Lakeland.
Having both been born and raised on Shlichus, Mendel and Chaya collectively have experience in virtually every aspect of educational and outreach work, including preschool, Hebrew school, campus, adult classes, and family programming.
The Friedmans and their sons Moshe and Binyamin will be moving to their new post shortly after Pesach, and will join the growing family of Shluchim in Central Florida.
To help support the vital work of the new Shluchim, please visit jewishwinterhaven.org/donate.