Vineyard Chabad

There’s a new Jewish gathering place in Vineyard Haven.

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Housewarming event at the Chabad House in Vineyard Haven. — Emily Drazen

Of course we love our Hebrew Center; some of us have ancient-enough memories to recall the elderly home that yielded to the gorgeous contemporary site on Spring Street in Vineyard Haven. But when news recently came down the pike that a Chabad House was opening, also in Vineyard Haven, at 83 Causeway Road, a whole bunch of Islanders, seasonal and year-round, were amenable to a new organization that promised to be welcoming to us. “Jews across all denominations, all colors and stripes,” announced the newly installed rabbi.

Rabbi Tzvi Alperowitz, 25 years old, explained to us two reporters when we called on him at his new digs a few weeks ago, “There are no politics as part of our message; we share Judaism. Chabad is where we share pride, acceptance, faith, and community.

“We believe that every human being is related in G-d‘s image and is an integral part of the tapestry of G-d’s creation. With our unique contributions, each of us is here to create a better world and enhance the lives of others.”

Vineyard Chabad is inspired and guided by the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (1902–94). The rebbe’s leadership, vision, and love transformed Chabad into a beacon of light for all humanity. There are now Chabad communities in over 100 countries and all 50 states.

Community builds community. The Vineyard Chabad is an affiliate of Chabad Lubavitch of Cape Cod, directed by Rabbi Yekusiel and Devora Alperowitz.

Tzvi’s wife, Hadassah, 23 years of age, holding in her arms the pair’s 8-month-old son, Mendel, points out that all Chabad centers are staffed by couples, thereby bringing gender equality into decisions made and creating the largest group of female Jewish leaders.

Both Tzvi and Hadassah grew up in Chabad Houses, with parents running the show. Both, therefore, saw up-close and personal how rewarding it was to have the Chabad community as their major support system. The rabbi said, “This is a place where all Jews are family.”

And in person, the rabbi demonstrated how welcoming he is when one of us told him of her recent excursion into Hindu meditation, and he listened with a supportive nod.

But back to the romantic interest in this story: How did this attractive young couple meet and carry on their noble tradition? Hadassah hails from Westin, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale, where you’ll find her parents’ Chabad House. Tzvi grew up in Bournemouth, England, on the South Coast. Funnily enough, his U.K. accent is largely gone: He chipped away at it when he arrived on our shores as a young man, and hoped to fit in, ideally as a Yank. His parents, as mentioned, also headed up a Chabad House, and now this young couple have brought the tradition to our own little Island.

Some Vineyard communities in the past, unconsciously or not, certainly extralegally, banned Catholics, Jews, and Blacks. As we grow, welcoming and supporting faiths and cultures, what a vibrant and beautiful Vineyard we are becoming.

Recently the Chabad organization purchased its charming old traditional home on Causeway Road, and during our first tour, workers were on hand in every room, painting, wiring, and doing carpentry. On the ground floor, the rabbi pointed out a big, well-iit area that will serve as the synagogue and multipurpose room. There’s an easy-prep kitchen and, catching afternoon light, a “Kiddish Room” for wine and chats. It will also feature a library and Judaica gift shop.

A couple of days later they opened their home upstairs for a housewarming event. There were squeals of excitement as people recognized one another and fell into easy conversations about community, how important it is to them, and how much they need this, how hard some settings are, and how wonderful this is. Over the delicious and beautifully prepared kosher food, someone said, “Maybe the Vineyard will have a kosher catering company.”

Hadassah got well-deserved credit for a table laden with platters of fish and chicken and salads, all kosher. The room itself features, way over in the expanse of windows, a photo of Chabad founder Rabbi Schneerson, with pale green eyes and wearing a black-and-white tallit over his head. On the north side of the room, tall bookshelves flourish with an array of encyclopedic tomes inscribed with Hebrew titles.

Before we took our leave, Rabbi Tzvi expounded on how the new Chabad center is intended to be a lighthouse of Jewish philosophy and community.

And God knows we can always use another lighthouse on this magical Island.

For more information on the Vineyard Chabad, visit vineyardchabad.org/vineyard-chabad.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Does Chabad allow women to read from the Torah, and be part of the minyan?
    Women’s equality?
    Some important questions need to be answered here including when did the wold begin?

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