by Ashira Weiss – Lubavitch.com
This weekend, Chabad rabbis from around the world convene in New York for the annual International Conference of Shluchim. Veterans and rookies will network, share inspiration and tips, and trade stories of Jewish life around the globe.
New centers open at a steady clip as young couples move to expand Chabad’s reach. Some will form their own organizations, open synagogues or schools, while others join existing teams of emissaries to help expand activities in their respective area.
Since the last conference, in November 2017, the state of Florida has welcomed thirteen such families. Lubavitch International caught up with seven of the most recent of these young idealists, to hear about their goals and challenges, and how they’re impacting the Sunshine State.
Rabbi Berel and Tzivia Namdar, Chabad of Singer Island
Singer Island is beautiful! A peninsula at Florida’s easternmost point, Singer Island is popular with visitors and snowbirds, but communal life is almost non-existent. We’re working to provide Jewish structure and community. So far many Island Jews have joined us weekly in our dining room to eat, schmooze and imbibe the warm, joyful experience that is Shabbat dinner. Together, we are creating a place where Judaism is alive and thriving, just as the Rebbe envisioned.
For more information and to support Chabad of Singer Island, visit JewishSingerIsland.com
Rabbi Levi and Leah Steinmetz, Chabad of Downtown Sarasota
We’re half local—Levi grew up in Sarasota, but that was before the downtown area began to flourish. Since then, there’s been an influx of Jewish families into what is now a residential hub. They’re excited for us to open a Jewish community center.
Building a new community from the ground up is a daunting task. We started by working with the community day school. There we met many children and families who don’t affiliate with a synagogue. Slowly we’re connecting with more and more people, and they are joining us at our adult education programs and family events. By forming individual connections, we are nurturing the beginnings of a Jewish community!
For more information and to support Chabad of Downtown Sarasota, visit ChabadOfDowntownSRQ.com
Rabbi Mendel and Nechama Danow, Chabad of Pensacola
Since 1559, Pensacola, one of the oldest cities in the States, has been waiting for an Orthodox Jewish community. The Reform and Conservative communities, as well as unaffiliated people we’ve met since our arrival, have welcomed us with warmth.
We were also greeted, perhaps not so warmly, by Hurricane Michael, which arrived two days behind us. We hunkered down, and realised exactly what we are here for – to do what we can to provide for the community’s material and spiritual needs.
With a sizable Jewish population in town and on the University of West Florida campus, plus 2 million tourists passing through each year, we are looking forward to building a vibrant community in this historic town. This Chanukah, we will hold Pensacola’s first grand menorah lighting, in the center of town.
Though we are fifty miles away from our closest Chabad colleagues and a ten-hour drive from the convenience of a kosher grocery, we are excited to share the light of Jewish pride, and maybe even kosher jelly donuts, with our new friends.
For more information and to support Chabad of Pensacola, visit ChabadPensacola.org
Rabbi Asher and Etty Farkash, Chabad of Ormond Beach
We moved to Ormond Beach, a small town just up the coast from Daytona, before the summer. We had a short time to settle in, while simultaneously preparing to direct our first Gan Israel summer day camp. Though we can’t say it was easy, thank G-d it was a successful and smooth summer. It was also a great way to meet so many local Jewish families.
One thing we both especially enjoy is leading the adult education classes in Ormond Beach; they provide intimate settings for us to get to know people, while at the same time delving into deeper ideas. It’s more meaningful than just the small talk we make when we bump into people in the street or at camp pick-up and drop-off.
For more information and to support Chabad of Ormond Beach, visit ChabadDaytona.org
Rabbi Kopel and Goldy Silberberg, Chabad Jewish Center of Tamarac
We are constantly surprised by the sheer number of Jews we meet in this quiet, nondescript town just south of Coral Springs.
We moved here just before Rosh Hashanah and so many people invited us into their homes so they could hear the sound of the shofar. We held services for the High Holidays and over that time kept hearing how excited everyone is to have Chabad in their town.
Since then, our efforts have been in bringing opportunities for learning Torah and performing mitzvahs to Jews at home, work, and wherever else we encounter them. We hope we can build these individual relationships into a community where everyone feels welcome.
For more information and to support Chabad of Tamarac, visit JewishTamarac.com
Rabbi Shmuli and Nechama Heidingsfeld, Chabad of Lauderhill
Though South Florida is home to the biggest Jewish population outside New York, in our town of Lauderhill there are many Jews who aren’t affiliated with any community. We have been touched by the joy with which people greeted our arrival and we are excited to build on that positive energy. For now, as we settle in, we have been reaching out to people to learn what their needs are. Whether it’s a Torah class, a hospital visit, or a program for teens, we want to provide Jewish necessities for every age and segment of the diverse population here.
For more information and to support Chabad of Lauderhill, visit ChabadFtLauderdale.com/Outreach
Rabbi Levi and Malka Posner, Chabad of Plantation
We are blessed to be part of the team at Chabad of Plantation that serves the large Jewish community in this classic suburban town.
Upon arriving, we noticed that though previous generations are familiar with attending a synagogue, millennials here have little connection with communal Jewish life. Our goal is to reach the younger crowd and make the synagogue approachable and integral to their Jewish reality. We host social events and holiday programs, providing reasons, outside of prayer services, to enter the synagogue.
Another exciting project has been our pre-Yom Kippur trip to the Rebbe’s resting place and the Chabad community in New York. It was a first for the Plantation community and we look forward to making it an annual event. We are currently working on a future community trip to Israel as well.
For more information and to support Chabad of Plantation, visit ChabadPlantation.com