Rebeca Kuropatwa – Jewish Tribune
Winnipeg – The new Lubavitch Jewish Learning Centre here officially opened recently with a dedication ceremony attended by more than 500 guests.
The construction of the centre in Winnipeg’s South End is a major community milestone. From start to finish, it was built in eight months. The last community institution built in the city was in 1997, when the Asper Jewish Community Campus opened.
“Winnipeg’s new Jewish Learning Centre will enable us to continue to service the Jewish community in so many ways, and take it to the next level,” said the centre’s Rabbi Shmuly Altein.
“The key to Jewish continuity is quality Torah education for people of all ages, regardless of background, affiliation, or level of observance. Chabad has no membership and embraces every Jew equally,” he said.
The opening event took place at the centre, which is on Mathers Avenue. There was a Chanukah concert featuring Brooklyn singer Chaim Fogelman, an inaugural mezuzah ceremony, special video presentation about Chabad, community menorah lighting, Chanukah Silly Bandz, live music and dancing, fireworks, holiday refreshments, and a police-escorted 25-plus car parade (with menorahs mounted on the car roofs).
The rabbi said, “We took the warmth, joy and celebration to the streets of Winnipeg and spread the light.”
At the mezuzah inauguration ceremony, Rabbi Altein said, “Some of our big donors who dedicated a room in the new Centre mounted mezuzot onto the door posts – very much in the spirit of Chanukah or chanukat habayit, just as the Macabees rededicated the temple during this time so many years ago.”
After the last mezuzah was mounted everyone said “mazel tov,” confetti fell from the roof and the party began.
“Overall, the atmosphere in the large auditorium was electric,” Rabbi Altein said. “Everyone was in high spirits and has great hopes for the future.”
At the opening, Premier Greg Selinger delivered words of support and helped light the new Chanukiah (designed by the community’s Maxim Berent and his father).
The building of the centre cost $3.5 million. It was infused with $640,000, half from the federal government and half from the province. The city contributed $25,000, and the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba contributed $75,000. The remaining needed funds will have to be made up by private donors.
“The name Chabad means chochmah, binah, and da’at (understanding, learning, and wisdom),” said Rabbi Avrohom Altein, the driving force behind Winnipeg Lubavitch for nearly 40 years.