Chabad opens new house worth $3.2 million

by Maria Harrast | 10/19/18 3:00am

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Source: Courtesy of Kevin Yang

Chabad at Dartmouth now has a new place in Hanover to call home. On Oct. 14, the Hilary Chana Chabad House — located two blocks from the Green at 19 Allen Street — opened the doors of its new 9,000-square-foot building with a weekend of festivities that culminated in a dedication ceremony on Sunday.

The grand opening included remarks by Chabad Rabbi Moshe Gray and other prominent figures in the College’s Jewish community, student speeches, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony, as well as presentations to George and Pamela Rohr, Sue Ann Arnall and Robert and Debbie Ezrapour, who helped fund the $3.2 million purchase and renovation of the new house. The latter three are parents of Dartmouth graduates.

Katie Goldstein ’20 spoke during the event, discussing how she found her home in Chabad at Dartmouth.

“During my speech, I gravitated towards my own experience with Chabad,” Goldstein said. “I spoke towards how grateful I was towards [Gray] for creating such a great atmosphere that I really felt welcomed in. It’s really just another place for me to feel at home.”

Prior to the culminating dedication ceremony, Chabad hosted a Shabbat dinner and festivities on Oct. 12 with a prayer service led by Max Goldman ’20. The service was held in the house’s new sanctuary, a space dedicated to prayer and the study of Jewish material.

“In addition to the size of the new house, there are also accommodations that enable it to host different events in a more vibrant way,” Goldman said. “At the prayer service, they had way more guests than they possibly could have at the old house. The new house at Chabad contributes to the growth and flourishing of Jewish life at Dartmouth, but it’s also an indication that Jewish life is beginning to grow at Dartmouth.”

The decision to buy and renovate the building largely stemmed from the need to better accommodate an expanding Jewish community at the College, Gray said. Since 2003, Chabad at Dartmouth has outgrown two houses on School Street, and Gray said he hopes that the new house will be a more permanent home for the organization.

“We wanted to do one major move,” Gray said. “We renovated the house in a way to create spaces for students to really be able to come and [use these spaces] in whatever capacity they wanted. It was extensive, it was lengthy, but I think well worth it, and I think students for generations are going to take advantage of the space we’ve created.”

The house’s student facilities include a 1,400-square-foot dining room, a 3,000-book library, a large kitchen, a student lounge and a garden on its two-acre plot. Additionally, the building has a two-bedroom guest suite and serves as the residence of Gray and his wife, Chani Gray, — the co-directors of Chabad at Dartmouth — as well as their five children.

Ultimately, the Chabad House will act as a hub where students can come together for meals, prayer services, social activities, intellectual events and studying, Goldman said.

Every week, Chabad hosts Shabbat dinners, as well holiday dinners and lunches, Gray said. Of the activities that the organization will continue to host at the new facility, Goldstein said that her favorite events are these communal meals.

“The fastest way to a student’s heart is through their stomach,” Gray said. “[Students] can come together, they can see friends, they can talk, relax and enjoy each other’s company and delve into their Judaism and Jewish thought. Whether they come every week, or they come once a term, it’s about those connection points that they have.”

The strong community fostered in Chabad at Dartmouth is tangible even after students graduate, Gray said. Young alumni contributed over $200,000 for the purchase and renovation of the new Chabad House, and Goldman noted that Chabad at Dartmouth provides a unique environment where Jewish students can thrive.

“We’re in kind of a unique place in the middle of nowhere here, so at Dartmouth, students are definitely forced to make our own city here and create our own aspects of life, whether that’s religious, or social, or cultural,” Goldman said. “I think that Chabad is one way for students to create Jewish life here in the same way that students are responsible for creating other aspects of life [at Dartmouth].”

With the opening of the new house and its student facilities, Goldstein said he believes that Chabad at Dartmouth is even better equipped to continue providing a welcoming atmosphere for Jewish students at the College.

“[The Chabad House] is really just to create an open environment to students, and I think that was a main goal of the new space,” Goldstein said. “I think the new house is going to create a new era of students in the space of Chabad.”