Coming on the heels of celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of Chabad-Lubavitch activities in the Sunshine State, Jewish community members in South Florida are gearing up to toast almost three decades of Torah classes, holiday programs and youth clubs in the southern portion of Broward County.

When they arrived in 1980, Rabbi Raphael and Goldie Tennenhaus opened Chabad of South Broward, establishing a six-location network of programs. On the eve of the organization’s 29th annual dinner on March 14, it comprises 12 full-time centers and some 40 institutions, including a preschool, Hebrew school, women’s teaching college, drug prevention and education program, ritual baths for the physically challenged, summer and winter camps, and an annual Chanukah festival typically attended by more than 10,000 people.

Looking at the upcoming milestone, Raphael Tennenhaus said that the community was poised to continue its growth. It would start, he specified, with the celebration of Passover later this month: Each of the 12 centers associated with Chabad of South Broward will host public Seders for a combined total of thousands of people, as well as distribute the traditional unleavened bread known as matzah to Jewish households throughout the area.

“In Jewish teachings, the number thirty represents strength,” said the rabbi. “We’re motivated to go from strength to strength and to expand our current projects, to reach as many people as possible and to make a difference in people’s lives.”

One local resident, Batsheva Cornelison, said that one of the organization’s greatest strengths has been its focus on education. Its Hebrew school, which currently enrolls more than 50 students, has had a profound effect on her family.

“The school has had the most impact on my kids in teaching them how to be real, practical Jews,” said Cornelison, whose nine- and seven-year-olds have been attending the school for several years. “My son now even wants to wear a [yarmulke] on his head.

“The Hebrew school has had an impact on their willingness to observe [Jewish law] and they really enjoy it,” she added. The teachers “really know how to reach the children in a very welcoming, helpful way. For me, it’s very important that my kids are involved with the Jewish community, and this school does that.”

According to Liat Bensimon, the Chai Tots preschool, with a 70-strong enrollment, has similarly influenced her two-year-old daughter.

“She just loves going there,” said Bensimon. “It’s so warm and really teaches her to love Judaism. She comes home learning the most unbelievable things. I’m so impressed with the school; it’s a wonderful, caring environment for my daughter.”

Tennenhaus said that one of the highlights of the dinner will be the unveiling of plans to expand the preschool, which because of space considerations, cannot currently enroll all of the local children who want to attend. The event will also serve as the dedication of the center’s Max and Eve Rubenstein Main Sanctuary and a chance to honor the contributions of the sanctuary’s namesakes.

“Chabad of South Broward has been instrumental in Jewish community outreach, education, programs and learning, and has created opportunities for thousands of people to touch and feel Judaism,” said attorney Bernie Friedman, a past president of the local Jewish Community Center who’s serving as a co-chair of the dinner. “I admire how [it] thinks out of the box and provides so many unique and different opportunities that you can’t get elsewhere.”