New Chabad house to open
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 00:09
Chabad at Brandeis has opened a second house for this school year to allow students to experience a smaller Shabbat dinner environment, according to an email to the Chabad community from Peretz Chein, the rabbi of the original Chabad house at Brandeis.
The new house is located at 132 South Street, near the Ninety Nine Restaurant, and will be led by Rabbi Ilan and Sarah Fuchs ’05, who was president of Chabad at Brandeis during her time here.
The first Chabad house is a three-story home located at 54 Turner Street.
According to the Chabad at Brandeis website, “The Chabad House is a home for Jews of all denominations to learn, thrive, and most importantly, to connect. The goal is to guide our students toward a deep connection to one another and to Judaism.”
According to Chein’s email, the original Chabad house typically attracts as many as 150 students for Sabbath dinners on Friday nights. In an email to the Justice, he said that the current house is overflowing with students. “This has taken away from the coziness Chabad seeks to create,” he said. “It also prevents Chanie [his wife] and I from personally interacting with many students.”
Chein wrote that the new house will allow 20 to 30 students to enjoy the Shabbat dinner experience, and that its location, on the other side of campus from the original house, will be more convenient for students who live in upper campus or off-campus.
The original house was started in fall 2001 by Rabbi Peretz and his wife, Chanie, and has been growing ever since. Now that the number of regular Friday-night attendees is over 150, Fuchs said, the new house that she and Ilan are in the process of moving into will “offer a smaller, more intimate Shabbat dinner where we can get to know students, students can get to know us, there can be more dialogue around the table amongst students in a way that’s really not possible anymore” at the original Chabad house.
“The situation is a win-win for all parties involved,” said Chabad at Brandeis President Mitchell Schwartz. “Those who want to be a part of the much larger Shabbat on Turner Street can go there, those who want to attend a more intimate Shabbat can go to South Street, and now the problem of lack of space has been reduced.”
Fuchs also said that she’s excited to be coming back to work with Chabad. “It’s strange to be coming back in such a different context,” she said. “I spoke just a little bit at the Shabbat dinner this week, and I said, when I was a student here … I was very much inspired by [Peretz and Chanie], by their commitment to the students here, to the Jewish community in general, to Jewish education, and largely due to their influence, I decided to pursue Jewish education, Jewish communal work following graduation.”
Fuchs has come full circle, and said that it’s “fulfilling” to be working with her mentors.
In an interview with the Justice, Ilan praised the work that Peretz has done at the original Chabad house, and said that it serves as an example to campus Chabad houses across the country.
“This is one that people notice,” he said. “It’s very original programming. So original that many Chabad houses on campuses adopt programs that started here."
“So many of the initiatives are student-led, student-organized, student-driven,” added Fuchs. “When you have a huge community of students … you can accomplish much more.”
Ilan received his ordination from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and has a Ph.D. in Jewish law, according to Chein’s email to the community. He has taught at both Tulane University and the University of Calgary.
Ilan and Sarah have a four-year-old daughter, Dina, and a one-year-old son, Asher.
They are still in the process of moving into the house, and as of Monday, weren’t sure whether they would be able to host their first dinner this Friday.
“It depends on if we have a table,” said Ilan.
“And if we can find our pots,” added Fuchs, laughing. “But we’d like to get going as soon as possible.”