Since opening in 2012, Chabad Oro Valley, led by Rabbi Ephraim and Mushkie Zimmerman, has grown its roster of participants to about 500 — and outgrown its current space.
For the High Holidays, Chabad Oro Valley will celebrate in a new 3,388-square-foot home in Sun City’s Mountain View Plaza, 1171 E. Rancho Vistoso Blvd. Chabad leadership also doubles with the addition of Rabbi Boruch Zimmerman, Ephraim’s brother.
“We can’t go by senior and junior Rabbi Zimmerman,” chuckles Ephraim, who is six years older. “He will go by Rabbi Boruch.” Arriving in Southern Arizona in August, Boruch and his wife, Adeli, moved from Brooklyn, New York, with their now 8-month-old son, Mendel. Just as Boruch will share the workload with Ephraim — beginning with construction wrap-up for the new facility — Adeli already has delved into teaching with her sister-in-law Mushkie. Adeli will bring additional youth programming with activities, beginning with Sukkot.
Boruch did his undergraduate studies at the Rabbinical College of America in New Jersey, followed by the further study and ordination at the Rabbinical Seminary of Greater Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Boruch, from Chicago, and Adeli, from Los Angeles, married and moved to what he calls “Hasidic Central” — Brooklyn — to a kollel (institute for adult study) for two years of advanced rabbinic study of Talmud, Hasidim and halachah (Jewish law).
Planning for the new growth began months ago, Ephraim says. When anonymous donors came up with the $40,000 for the building lease, negotiations seriously started for the property. A 48-hour crowd-funding blitz surpassed the $40,000 additional funds needed to begin the fit-out construction and finalize all licensing and required installations. General contracting services were donated, and Rich Schlesinger donated his services as project manager.
The facility will feature an expansive multi-purpose room with an office and a kitchen. Space is allocated for a welcome center, with tables for education. With no fixed seating and a capacity of 150, the area has flexibility for festive occasions such as a big Purim party, or Passover seders, Ephraim says. Chabad Oro Valley targets serving SaddleBrooke, Marana and Oro Valley.
“Our family has been a founding member at Chabad Oro Valley,” says participant Judy Katz Esbit. “We are thrilled. It is lovely to see this growth. It’s about community, community, community.” Katz Esbit recalls when her family moved to Oro Valley, they reached out and said they would support the Chabad. “The outreach programs they do are fabulous, like Torah and Tea and the challah bake. It is a way to bring in people who may have grown up Jewish and walked away to come and feel welcome. It connects people to what they might have known and know it again. To be a community of forever family.”
Chabad is the fastest-growing Jewish movement in the world, with branches in more than 105 countries. Arizona alone has about 25 different Chabad houses, with five in Southern Arizona. The Chabad headquarters in New York appoints regional leaders. Those leaders appoint district leaders, who send rabbis to Chabad locations. Southern Arizona regional director Rabbi Yossie Shemtov appointed Ephraim, who in turn appointed Boruch.
Ephraim says that Chabad services meet very traditional Orthodox protocol. “It’s not watered down and not overly progressive,” he says. “Where Chabad breaks the mold is that those from all spectrums of Judaism can sit under the same roof, it’s comfortable.
“Chabad does not have membership,” he adds, explaining that donations fund all the operations. “It’s outreach Judiasm. If you’re Jewish, you’re family, and you belong.”
For more information, contact Chabad Oro Valley at 477-8672 or visit www.jewishorovalley.com.