After a recent campaign lasting only six weeks, Chabad at the Shore raised $500,000 to secure a second location in Ventnor. The center will be dedicated to Flo and Bob Ackerman and will be aptly named the Bob and Flo Ackerman Jewish Family Center. It will be located at 300 N. Dudley Ave. in Ventnor Heights and will have a preschool, a small sanctuary, as well as a space for teenagers to use.
Spiritual leader of Chabad Rabbi Avrohom Rapoport shared his gratitude with congregants and donors. “People came through and were extremely generous. Thank you to everyone who helped out, allowing us to close [on the property] on time. A special thank you to the Ackermans, who inspired the project.”
Initially, Chabad planned to do an expansion on their own grounds but when the Chinese Atlantic Church became available, plans changed. Rapoport added, “It was easier to buy something that was already built. Leaders of the church were happy to celebrate their building as it changed hands from one religion to another, and have it remain a physical structure in the community.” Ironically, Chabad’s current Chai Center was also a church before it was renovated to outfit the current synagogue.
Chabad will soon be able to better serve small children, a very important demographic to them, in the new center. Having a preschool will enable Chabad to communicate messages that will last a lifetime to children who are so impressionable. Additionally, the space will add value to the lives of local teens. Rabbi Rapoport explained, “One of the challenges after a young person has their bar/bat mitzvah is keeping them engaged. Many times we don’t see them again until they are married. That’s why our CTeen program is so important.” CTeen keeps Jewish teens involved in the community and gives them opportunities to participate in mitzvah projects so they can benefit from the spirit and joy of giving as they practice the values of Judaism.
Chabad President Ron Zukin also noted, “We need to ensure that there is Jewish pride in our youth. If we want to fight anti- Semitism, we have to develop proud and knowledgeable Jews and that is what we are doing with our youth at Chabad.”
The new center will also enhance the lives of residents who live in the Ventnor Heights area. Rapoport shared, “Some congregants are Shomer Shabbos and walk 45 minutes to the Chai Center. Now, with a new sanctuary, they will not have to walk over the bridge.” The new center will be a place for residents to pray, study, learn and be social.
On Sunday, Aug. 14, Chabad hosted a benefit to honor the Ackermans of Margate, NJ for their role of helping Chabad acquire the new facility. At the benefit, 200 donors contributed to this accomplishment.
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