For the past seven years, Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston have been operating Chabad-Lubavitch of Orange County, N.Y., and its vast array of Torah classes, teen programs, women get-togethers, and synagogue services from their home and small office spaces. But now, with the lease of a new 3,200 square-foot mini center, they and their community will have plenty of room to expand.
On Sunday, Jan. 23, the Burstons will host the Monroe-Chester Center’s grand opening, which will also include a ceremony inaugurating the writing of a brand new Torah scroll.
“The new space is quite an improvement; it’s really lovely,” says Gil Goetz, president of the Chabad House’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.”
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But even the new space, as expansive as it is, will only be temporary. In 2006, the Burstons purchased a seven-acre property on which they hope to soon build a massive 16,000-square-foot facility. Until then, they plan to fill all of the intermediate location’s available space with offices, a synagogue/multi-purpose room, classrooms, a kitchen, parking, a green area outside and a welcome lobby.
“The lobby is really nice because you’re greeted by a person behind a desk right when you walk in,” Sid Herhkowitz, whose son attends Chabad Hebrew School, says of the intermediate location. “It’s a warm space and my family really enjoys it.”
For Herhkowitz and other Orange County families, the Chabad House has filled a major void in the community’s Jewish programming by establishing a women’s circle, open Torah classes and a 60-student Hebrew school. It was mainly the Hebrew school’s growth that encouraged the move to the new space.
While it dwarfs Chabad-Lubavitch of Orange County’s current location, this temporary one will soon give way to a massive 16,000 square foot center.
“It’s a very big space,” says Sigal Szuchman, whose three children participate in Chabad programs. “We have grown so much through the years that we needed a bigger space. The Hebrew school is so much nicer now that there are more classrooms, and hopefully more people will join us in this great location.”
Andrea Pincus, whose two sons attend Chabad summer camp, echoes Szuchman’s sentiments.
“It’s more centrally located and really beautiful,” says Pincus. “Because it’s a lot larger, we’ll be able to have a lot more events. It definitely makes it a lot easier for my children to go to Hebrew school too.”
And for Pesach Burston, the new center – located smack dab in the middle of town – solidifies his organization’s place in the community.
“We really needed a new image, a space that would better serve those involved with Chabad,” says the rabbi. “The new place is really fitting for a Jewish center. It is more of a commercial, accessible, easy-to-use place for us. Every program we have now has a comfortable place to be. It’s really a space to call home.”