New Jews on Block open door to Brandeis
Tucked away just a three minute walk from Ziv Quad, some new residents have moved onto the block that we call Brandeis. At the beginning of this semester, Rabbi Peretz and Chanie Chein moved into a large house at 54 Turner Street, right off campus. Who are Peretz and Chanie Chein? What does their house have to do with you? Why should you care that they just moved in? Here are a few reasons that might pique your interest, warm your heart and wet your pallete. The Cheins are members of a Jewish sect called Chabad Lubavitch. This movement began in Russia over 200 years ago and focused on the solidarity of communities, as suggested by the Russian word Lubavitch, which means "city of brotherly love." According to the Cheins, Chabad is a philosophy, an organization and a movement, which has come to Brandeis to spread all of the love and kindness that falls at the epicenter of its system of beliefs. Chabad has centers from Alaska to Uzbekistan, and is on campuses from Berkeley to Yale.
When asked what the function of the Chabad House is, Peretz said the house creates "a warm, welcoming and non-judgmental environment, where students of all backgrounds and levels of observance can enjoy exploring the Jewish heritage."
"Our activities include creative Jewish holiday programs, lectures and classes on Jewish subjects, and one-on-one sessions on any myriad of Jewish texts," Rabbi Chein said.
But the Chabad House brings more than just educational opportunities to the student body. Every Friday night, for example, Chabad hosts a meal with an intimate and homey setting in which students come to eat traditional foods, meet new friends from every niche of the Brandeis campus and celebrate the Sabbath in a spiritually and intellectually stimulating manner.
Among the students already having visited the house is Ari Teman '05. "The new house is a great place to meet people and strengthen relationships in a laid back environment," he said, "(but) really, I go for gefilte fish. And the chicks."
It seems the effect of the Chein's hospitality has already penetrated the campus. "I started studying a new facet of Judaism because of Chabad," Jonathan Lubin '05 said. "Peretz has had a profound effect on my life since he got to Brandeis."
It seems that the Cheins have even penetrated the administration at Brandeis, as a guest there this past Friday night was the famed Alwinna Bennet. When asked about her experience, Bennett said; "When Chani and Peretz invited me to join them and some students for Sabbath Dinner, they made me feel very welcome and accepted ... as a non-Jew it is rare that I would have the opportunity to have a glimpse into this very traditional yet sort of "exotic" community.
With the new 6,400 square foot building, Rabbi Chein is also installing a lounge, library and recreation room for students to use as they please. The Cheins encourage students of all backgrounds to come by and visit the house, and they now have an official Brandeis Chabad web site at Chabadbrandeis.org