Chabad of Orange County opens $4 million Jewish Community Center to service the entire County
A festive celebration of the New Chabad Gellman-Kaplan Center for Jewish Life attracted hundreds from across Orange County and beyond who came to witness the historical Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting of the new Chabad Campus.
The $4 million dollar state-of-the-art 10,000 square foot facility rests atop a hill in Monroe, NY, with scenic views that stretch across the County. Set on seven acres of land, the campus consists of a spacious Synagogue and Social hall to fit 200 guests, Teen and Youth Lounge, children’s classrooms, kosher commercial kitchen, Entrance Lobby, Jewish Library, offices, a staff guest suite and pergola terrace. Many grass areas will allow room for outdoor events and recreation, and Chabad plans on a future playground.
Chabad of Orange County, directed by Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston, was established 18 years ago. The Burston’s were sent by Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters as representatives and spiritual leaders to serve the entire Orange County Jewish community. Conveniently located close to the Route 17 highway, the new Jewish Center is easy access from areas like Woodbury, Goshen, Middletown, Warwick and more.
The large crowd enjoyed a great celebration with live music by the Yochai Band, gourmet kosher cuisine, delectable desserts, High Holiday activities and an Interactive Pop Art experience.
“For 18 years we built a community, we just did not have a house to put it in,” explained Rabbi Pesach. “Now, on this hill which we call the ‘Temple Mount’ we have a permanent home! We look forward to this new center being a beacon of light, joy and peace for the Jewish community of Orange County!” he said.
Elected officials participated in the ceremony including Monroe Village Mayor Neil Dwyer and trustee John Carl, Monroe Town Supervisor Tony Cardone, Councilwomen Dorey Houle, Judge Carol Klein and Assemblyman Colin Schmitt.
The ribbon cutting was followed by festive dancing and celebration. Community member Elias Muhlrad recited the blessing and affixed the Jerusalem stone Mezuzah to the entry door.
Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, addressed the audience. Also in attendance was international JLI director Ephraim Mintz, and many neighboring Chabad emissaries.
Hundreds of generous supporters contributed to this project, and permanent plaques will be displayed to recognize and thank supporters. Building naming honorees Aaron and Shifra Gellman were honored and acknowledged with a meaningful presentation and gift. The building is a tribute in memory of their parents, Jack and Elizabeth Gellman and David and Beatrice Kaplan.
Chabad Visionary supporters were recognized – Elias and Tawnya Muhlrad of Goshen, Dr. Pinny and Sonia Young of Buffalo and Tzvi and Simmie Gellman. As recognition for gifts of over $25k, twenty supporters received a crystal plaque with a 3D image of the building.
The Shofar (ram’s horn) was blown by Tzvi Gellman for the crowd in preparation for the High Holidays.
A unique and colorful flair was added with the 2-foot high “Cup of Overflowing Blessings” interactive Pop-Art Sculpture. Led by the “Pop Art Rabbi” Yitzchok Moully, guests had the opportunity to paint the sculpture, which will remain as a symbol of community at the new center.
“Each community member, from the babies in Mommy & Me, to our senior citizens – adds magnificent color, talent and individuality to the beautiful community we create together,” said Chana Burston, as she introduced the interactive Pop Art sculpture.
“This Cup of Overflowing Blessings will be displayed at Chabad, representing how we come together with all of our different flavors, into a family of harmony and kindness. May our cups always overflow!” said Chana.
Various guests were honored to begin the sculpture, and throughout the event all guests had the chance to help create the cup of overflowing blessings. Representatives from Chabad Hebrew School, The CTeen Youth leaders, Alumni Lee Stanton and various community members were called up to begin the sculpture.
The event continued with a High Holiday Fair with educational experts leading each workshop. Rabbi Morgenstern of Chabad of New City led children of all ages in a “Shofar Factory” as they sawed and sanded a ram’s horn, known as a Shofar, a sacred item used on Rosh Hashanah. Round Holiday Challah Making with the popular “Challah Fairy,” Holiday Face Painting, Bouncing Castles and more. Guests received gift boxes of honey cakes for the new year.
Now that the doors are open, holiday services and events will be in full swing. The fundraising campaign to raise funds to complete the project can be found at chabadorange.com/building campaign
Chabad of Orange County’s services reached over 1500 people in 2022, and continues to grow and expand. Chabad offers a full range of services and programs catered for all ages and interests.
Photo credit: Rosie Photography