“Welcome to our new abode!” Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg, who co-directs Chabad of Rechavia with his wife, Shoshana, proudly proclaimed as he stood among loose wires and partially removed drywall in a now-vacant apartment in Jerusalem’s Rechavia neighborhood.

Goldberg is racing against the clock to ensure the latest Chabad center in the iconic Jerusalem neighborhood is ready for a soft opening on Purim—a mere week away from the conversation that took place with him on Sunday.

“The floors will come tomorrow,” Goldberg said excitedly as three contractors arrived. Together, they’ve been working around the clock to ensure the new facility is ready to host locals and visitors from across Israel as Jerusalem—a walled city—celebrates Shushan Purim, which starts at sundown on Sunday evening and lasts through nightfall on Monday.

Goldberg, who has served as a rabbi in Rechavia for the past 14 years, is very excited about this new space that will be used in addition to the original Chabad center located a few blocks away on King George Street.

Its high ceilings and large windows bring in ample natural light, and a brand-new commercial kitchen will be used to feed guests at events throughout the year. Goldberg also pointed out the dedicated children’s play area just waiting for the sounds of laughter and young voices.

“In our original space, we could only have really small Friday-night dinners, for example,” he said. “Now we can easily seat some 60 guests here.”

Finding Chabad’s newest location in Rechavia was not an easy feat. The charming but expensive Jerusalem neighborhood rarely has properties on the market, certainly not those suitable for Chabad’s purposes with options for expansion in the future.

This location on Ibn Ezra Street, though, which is adjacent to the major streets of Keren Kayemet and Ussishikin, fit Golberg’s criteria after a year-and-a-half-long search.

“This place was up for sale right when I needed it,” he said. “It really was a miracle. And it’s a testament to our community who helped us acquire such an asset that will be in the Chabad family for generations to come.”

Assuming construction continues at this breakneck speed, the general public will be able to get their first glimpse of the large multi-purpose room when Chabad of Rechavia will host their annual Azza Zaza event on Purim.

The event kicks off on Sunday with Megillah readings for mothers and young children and then opens up to the rest of the community with readings every hour. The next day will be a family affair as kids will have an opportunity to be part of a musical band to help ring in the joyous holiday.

In a time of crisis and tragedy for Israel, Goldberg hopes this new center will be a place of solace and cheer.

“People come to Chabad of Rechavia from all over the world and the country. Right now, our enemies are trying to destroy Jewish life in Jerusalem. We’re here to tell them that we’re not going anywhere.”

Goldberg also said the new building fulfills a need for the community itself as Jews from around the world frequently contact him for meals and places to daven; hosting everyone under one roof has proven challenging.

“Everybody in Rechavia knows where this location is,” community member Gary Dandy said. “We’re very crowded now. Currently, the women are on the top floor, and they can’t see anything. Now, in this new space, both men and women can enjoy the same view when davening. And every Shabbat when the rabbi hosts his beautiful kiddush, he won’t have to run out to bring the food; it can all be prepared and stored on site.”

“But the biggest draw,” Dandy said, “is the rabbi himself. Rabbis Goldberg and Levi Diamond are prepared for everyone. You never know who is going to walk off the street and need Chabad, but they’re always loving, warm and inclusive to everyone they encounter.”

Celebrants hear the Megillah reading at the annual Azza Zaza event on Purim in 2023. - Photo: Chabad of Rechavia
Celebrants hear the Megillah reading at the annual Azza Zaza event on Purim in 2023.
Photo: Chabad of Rechavia