In his last-known recorded speech, Rabbi David B. Hollander of the Hebrew Alliance-F.R.E.E. synagogue in the Brighton Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., speaks about a unique language.

Taking the microphone at the groundbreaking of his synagogue’s new building last Chanukah, Hollander tells the crowd that he would always ask which language he should use to address his congregation of mainly Russian immigrants: Should it be English or Yiddish?

“I decided that I will speak the language of Lubavitch,” he says.

Brighton Beach’s new Jewish Russian Community Center will put a host of activities for people of all ages under one roof. While the current location of the Hebrew Alliance and the local branch of Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe – a Chabad-Lubavitch institution – houses a preschool, day school, Hebrew school, three daily prayer services, Shabbat and holiday services, a bar and bat mitzvah program, teen clubs, Torah classes, and more, the new facility will add a kosher café, Judaica store, gymnasium and fitness room to the menu of offerings. It will also allow the elementary school and preschool to expand.

“It is a historic moment,” Hollander says of the groundbreaking. “Brighton Beach was written off. [People thought] that you could not do very much [Jewish activities here].

“We are not only rebuilding buildings, but people.”

Video by Irene Lipsker