The rabbi behind the new Chabad centre opening this Sunday has said his aim is to “connect all 12,000 Jews in Elstree and Borehamwood to their Judaism”.
Rabbi Chaim and Leah Hoch moved to the area in 2011 and until now have been holding events in their house or in a marquee in the garden, so Sunday’s grand opening of the Jewish Life Centre marks a fundamental shift for the couple.
The rented 1,250 sq ft first-floor space in Keystone Passageway near Shenley Road includes a kitchen, office and multi-function room that Rabbi Chaim said would be “open to everyone, regardless of affiliation or knowledge or whether they go to shul or not… in fact, we’re especially keen to welcome Jews who don’t go to shul”.
He added: “It’s about creating opportunities for Jews to connect to Judaism. We think there are between 10,000 and 12,000 Jews in Elstree and Borehamwood and think most are interested in connecting in some way. Our goal is to reach every single one.”
Asked about the building and its impact, he said: “There’s obviously a big practical upside to having your own space. It’s difficult to build a brand when you’re scheduling events and activities at your house. The Centre puts us on the map.”
While some private donors have offered seed funding, the couple say they need £250,000 for the first year, which includes refurbishment costs, then £150,000 per year after that, but are hopeful that the Government or local authority may help.
Events scheduled for the Centre cater to all ages and circumstances, with names such as Babyccino, C-Teen, Luna Ladies, Cereal Café and Booze & Shmooze, alongside adult education and bar or bat mitzvah clubs.
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