Chabad of the Pascack Valley had such a full house during Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur that it relocated to the Woodcliff Lake Hilton. With 150 to ’00 people per month attending Chabad events and more than 50 children, other programs have been spread between the Chabad house and other area homes that can accommodate larger crowds.
After six years in a house on Overlook Road in Woodcliff Lake, the group is looking to buy a 3.8-acre property so it can move all of its programs to one address.
"For six years now Chabad has offered all this wonderful programming," said Rabbi Dov Drizin, director of Valley Chabad, who lives in the Overlook Road facility with his wife Hindy and five children. "We’ve been all over the place and it’s been scattered. Now there’ll be one place people can go for programs. It’s a Jewish discovery center that I believe will serve the entire Jewish community."
Drizin announced last week that Chabad’s offer of "$’ million and change" to buy the property from the Hathaway family had been accepted. It has 50 days to make a down payment. Drizin expects to close on the property in the summer. While there is a small house on the property, it will not fit Chabad’s needs, Drizin said. More than half of the $’ million-plus goal to buy the land has been reached which will more than cover the down payment but a campaign will be needed to build a new facility to be called the Valley Chabad Center for Jewish Discovery. Fund-raising will continue in stages as part of a long-term project, Drizin said.
"This week and next week we’ll be reaching out to the community," he said. "We get no money from outside the community, no money from Chabad central. We believe very strongly that support will be there for the next level."
Chabad of Woodcliff Lake has an annual budget of $400,000, all of which is raised from within the community, he added. The fund-raising campaigns for the new center are in addition to fund-raising for the rest of the year’s programming.
Plans for the new facility are still in preliminary stages, but Drizin said it would be a modest building between 1′,000 and 15,000 square feet that "will very much fit into the character and landscape of the community, not like an institution that overwhelms the community."
Chabad will also create a Gan Israel day camp, a bar mitzvah discovery program, and other programs geared toward children in its new home. The adult education programming will also be rejuvenated, Drizin said, with the addition of a one-on-one study program with yeshiva students and rabbis, which will allow participants to set their own curriculum and schedule.
"Our vision for the Valley Chabad Center for Jewish Discovery is to be the third place," said Drizin. "There are some people who practice or observe at home and many people belong to a synagogue; we want to make something in between."
Outreach efforts will continue to the 13,6’7 Jews who live in the Pascack Valley, 55.5 percent of whom are unaffiliated, according to a ’00’ study by the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey. Many of the new programs will focus around the word "discovery," Drizin said, which will encourage more nonaffiliated Jews to try a Chabad experience.
"This is the third place in between the temple and the home, where people feel very comfortable," he said. "Every individual has an essential, integral, and unique role."