Chester - On Sunday, Jan. 23, a large crowd gathered to celebrate the grand opening of Chabad’s new Monroe-Chester Center, located at 1170 Route 17M, Suite 1, in Chester. The celebration also included a ceremony inaugurating the writing of a brand new Torah scroll. For the past seven years, Chabad of Orange County operating its Torah classes, youth and teen programs, Hebrew School, pre-school activities and synagogue services from office spaces in Goshen and Monroe as well as in their home. “Our new Monroe-Chester Center follows the pattern of our growth, allowing Chabad to better serve the needs of the community” said Rabbi Pesach Burston, director of Chabad. But the new space will only be temporary. In 2006, Chabad of Orange County purchased a seven-acre property on Gilbert Street in Monroe on which Burston hopes to soon build a 16,000-square-foot facility. Until then, he plans to fill all of the intermediate location’s 3,200 square foot space with offices, a synagogue/multi-purpose room, classrooms, a kitchen, parking, a green area outside and a welcome lobby. Chabad also has an office in Goshen at 1997 Route 17M. 'Feel the warmth’ Before the ribbon cutting, Monroe Village Mayor James Purcell greeted the community, noting the importance of community and education. “It may be cold outside,” the mayor said, “but you can really feel the warmth in here.” Monroe Town Councilman Gerard McQuade Jr. as well as Chabad rabbis from Sullivan, Dutchess, Ulster and Rockland counties also attended. County Executive Ed Diana sent a certificate of appreciation and congratulations. Rabbi Yisroel Rubin of Albany, the regional director of Chabad of Eastern New York State, greeted the community as well. “It’s so nice to see how the community grew and is bursting,” he said. “It’s no coincidence that Rabbi Pesach and Chana’s last name is Burston.” The event also featured the inaugural Torah writing ceremony of the Orange County Community Torah Scroll. While the congregation has a Torah on loan, this Torah, written by the community for the community, will be their own. Before the writing began, renowned scribe Rabbi Yehuda Clapman of Brooklyn offered a workshop on the writing of a Torah. The Torah letters are written with strict, precise rules only in black and white, explained Rabbi Yisroel Rubin, before writing a letter in the new Torah. “But it’s the community that surrounds and studies the Torah that gives it its local color,” he said. A variety of services “The new space is really lovely,” said Gil Goetz, president of the Chabad Center’s board and a retired pharmacist. “It really meets all of our needs and presents great 'eye appeal’ for our Chabad center. It’s very amenable and extremely welcoming.” “It’s a warm space and my family really enjoys it,” said Sid Hershkowitz, whose son attends Chabad Hebrew School. For Hershkowitz and other Orange County families, the Chabad Center has established a women’s circle, opened Torah classes and a 60-plus student Hebrew school, among other community services. “We have grown so much through the years that we needed a bigger space,” added Sigal Szuchman, whose three children participate in Chabad programs. “Hopefully even more people will join us in this great location.” Reuvena Leah Grodnitzky of Chabad.org contributed to this article.
Essential information To learn more about Chabad of Orange County, contact Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston at 782-2770, e-mail rabbi@ChabadOrange.com or visit www.ChabadOrange.com.