Chabad House enhances Jewish community with housing, amenities
Situated across from Alexander Library on the corner of Senior Street and College Avenue, the Les Turchin Chabad House has a bold presence on campus that leaves many students wondering what exactly “Chabad” means.
Campus Rabbi Baruch Goodman said the word Chabad can be broken down to three Hebrew words that mean wisdom, understanding and knowledge.
“The word itself contains a lot of emotion,” he said.
The house was established in 1978 with the purpose of presenting opportunities for Rutgers’ Jewish students to get involved, all under one roof.
About 3,000 students make up the Chabad House community. Although Chabad houses a synagogue for prayer, Goodman said many students do not visit solely for religious purposes.
“Most of them are not religious,” he said. “They attend to celebrate and enjoy their culture and the social programs offered.”
Programs include weekly ritual social programs such as “Sushi ‘n Soul,” along with community service opportunities. Students can serve others by visiting nursing homes and hospitals during November’s “RU Week of Kindness.”
The Chabad House also recognizes Shabbos, the weekly day of rest. Every Friday night at sundown until Saturday at sundown, practicing Jews recognize the day when God created the universe and everything within it.
Jewish custom prohibits tasks such as driving a car, cooking or watching television on Shabbos and Jewish holidays, Goodman said. The entire Goodman family moves into the Chabad House to observe Shabbos with the community.
The Chabad House offers a wide variety of amenities for student community members, such as the Jerusalem Cafe, workout rooms, computer rooms, study lounges and game rooms. The dining hall holds a maximum of 700 students, providing three kosher meals a day.
The house also offers special-interest dormitories to students interested in living in a Jewish community. Chabad House built women’s suites in 1996 and the men’s suites opened last January.
Goodman said the house aims to nourish a comfortable, inviting atmosphere.
“Students would choose to live here because it’s a welcoming place to be in,” he said. “Moreover, it’s so conveniently located, right in the center of things happening on campus — even the buses stop here. We ensure we have the sufficient amenities to cater to our Jewish students.”
The suites give live-in students private showers and bathrooms, said Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, executive director of Chabad House. The total cost for room and board is based on university costs, ranging from $8,000 to $11,000 per year.
Students who choose the meal plan, which covers three meals for each day of the week, are likely to pay more.
Goodman said he feels a sense of increased activity in the house.
“We’ve faced a lot of major expansion recently in terms of area we’re covering, as well as the number of students we’re receiving,” he said.
Jacqueline Roberman, president of Chabad’s student organization, said the community feels like a home away from home.
“As president, I am now trying to give to others students what Chabad was able to give to me,” she said.
Roberman, a School Of Arts And Sciences junior, also reiterated that religious or not, all students are welcome to join.
“Who wouldn’t want to share delicious food with amazing people, all while making life-long friends? I could not be happier with my experience thus far,” she said.
Mitchell Seigel, treasurer of Chabad’s student organization, said he felt nervous when he first visited the house because he comes from a conservative Jewish family.
“However, Chabad is the warmest and friendliest place I’ve found on campus,” he said. [Rabbi Goodman] is just so warm and open, and his smile makes you feel like you are home.”
He also stressed the positive impact Chabad had on his life.
“Coming from a student who had little religious affiliation, I came to Chabad and it welcomed me, and I have made it my home since my freshmen year,” he said.
He appreciates the community most of all, especially his relationship with the Goodman family.
“The Goodmans are amazing people who would do anything for someone and always bend over backwards,” he said. “The Chabad House is a great place to be and I highly recommend it to anyone, Jewish or not.”
Chabad extended this hospitable attitude by offering aid during the week of Superstorm Sandy, Goodman said.
“We were open to help students out in any way possible — we had students come in to get food, to keep warm and to charge their electronic devices,” he said.