The Chabad House has been in New Brunswick since 1978, when it started as a small organization on the first floor of the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus.
But even with the construction of a center adjacent to the student center, which was bought years ago, the organization has received so many interested members that they are in need of another expansion.
Chabad has raised $4 to $5 million to date and hopes to reach $10 million to finish construction, Carlebach said. Even with the immense renovations and extension, the house is expected to open this year.
“We are negotiating with banks to receive some of the additional money because we, like most others, have learned that with this economy, fundraising is not the most conducive plan,” he said.
The new center will allow more space in the Jewish students’ student center, but not only will it be expanded, the existing student center and residence hall will also be renovated, said Executive Director and Founding Rabbi Yosef Carlebach.
“The building is at capacity, so the extension was needed in order to accommodate to the students’ comfort,” he said.
The building’s residence halls were at capacity within two years, and more than 1,000 meals per day were being made, causing the small space to be an inconvenience, Carlebach said.
“It was time to grow again,” he said.
The house’s total square footage will increase from 35,000 to 85,000, Carlebach said.
Alumni and community members who have always supported the organization, like Les Turchin, the man responsible for giving money to the Chabad House when it first started, are funding the expansion, he said.
There is a women’s residence hall already in the house. But after the renovations, a men’s residence hall will be added, along with a dining facility with a capacity of 750 students, an international coffeehouse, a new quiet lounge and a new student lounge with pool tables, Carlebach said.
“The biggest benefit out of this construction is the expansion of the main hall where Shabbat dinners are held,” said Rutgers Business School senior and former Chabad President Uri Kapilovich. “Many Jewish students love coming to Chabad on Friday nights to welcome in the Shabbat, and I think that the expansion would be able to cater to all those students.”
He is pleased construction will be done soon.
“The new construction is progressing very quickly and is definitely going to be worthwhile for the Jewish community of Rutgers University,” Kapilovich said.
When the renovations are complete, the Chabad House will be the largest Jewish residence hall in the world at a public university, he said.
“It is wonderful that the Jewish community is growing at Rutgers and that the Chabad House is expanding in order to facilitate the needs to accommodate the future Jewish students,” said School of Arts and Sciences sophomore Shani Mendelsohn.
“The organization immediately exploded with the amount of activities available, causing a tremendous increase in members,” he said.
7:24 PM in New Brunswick, NJ
Shabbat Ends 8:25 PM
Friday, 19 April 2019