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Gala dinner fetes Chabad of Central N.J.
by Jason Cohen, The Jewish State

June 12 was a night of celebration at the New Brunswick Hyatt Regency, as close to 400 came out to honor 30 years of the Chabad of Central New Jersey. It was a night full of food, drinks, speeches, more food -- and lots of smiling faces.



In attendance was Chabad House Director Rabbi Yosef Carlebach; his son Rabbi Mendy Carlebach of the Chabad Jewish Center of South Brunswick; Jerold Zaro, president and managing partner of Ansell Zaro Grimm & Aaron; Rutgers Vice President Dr. Greg Blimling; Honorary President of the Chabad House Donald Hecht; Rutgers Chabad Campus Director Rabbi Baruch Goodman; and co-honorees Ruth Hyman and New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill, Governor John Corzine, and many others as well.


"The greatest act a person can perform is being special in someone else's life," Zaro, the night's emcee, said, referring to all the lives that have been positively impacted in the last 30 years by the Chabad of Central N.J.

Yosef Carlebach said 30 years has been a long time, and all of God's blessings have come to fruition for Chabad.



"Thirty years ago, I arrived in New Brunswick, N.J., where we barely managed to get a small minyan everyday," Carlebach said. "I used to wade through beer bottles looking for students and sometimes and they would put up signs saying ‘not today Rabbi' while others times I would get them to come."   


"I thank the board of advisors, the general contractor, the architect, my secret weapon -- Rabbi Baruch and Sarah Goodman, Rabbi Ari Goodwin, Lynn Rappaport; but most importantly, I'd like to thank my kids and extended family that have really have been a huge part of the past 30 years," Carlebach continued, then turning his attention to his wife for a special thank-you. "She is my best advisor and my confidant. Behind every man stands a surprised woman. Thank you, Rivky."   

Yosef Carlebach said that years ago, when his kids were still living at home, he received a phone call from a rabbi in California. The rabbi said "I am sending a man to live with you," and Carlebach said OK. However, the rabbi said, no matter what, don't ask him or make him do anything religious and don't make him put on a yarmulke.


"A few months go by and one day I come home and see that he is wearing a yarmulke, so I take him aside and ask him did someone make you wear the yarmulke?" Yosef Carlebach said.


He replied, "Rabbi you know the swing set that was in your garage for months? I put that up for your kids. Then after I put the swing set up, your son said to me ‘Are we friends?' and I said 'of course'."


His son then asked him, "Will you wear a yarmulke for me?"


The man replied," Since we are friends, yes," and put on the yarmulke.


Mendy Carlebach said celebration of the Chabad's 30th anniversary is testimony that shows how much Central New Jersey does for Chabad.



"I look around and see many people here and I realize that Chabad reaches out to all Jews, doesn't matter what your background is, it touches everyone," Mendy Carlebach said.   


The night was also in celebration of the new Chabad House that is being built. The new house is going to have a state-of-the-art men's dormitory, graduate student housing, an expanded kosher dining hall, an auditorium, a coffee house, and a first-ever campus Sephardic synagogue. Upon completion, it will be the largest Jewish center on any public university in the U.S. or Canada.


Hecht said he has a special interest in the soon to be Sephardic shul at the Chabad House.


Hyman was very excited to be there, and said it was a pleasure to have been chosen as an honoree for the special occasion.



"The work they do is admirable, wonderful for the Jewish people," Hyman said. "It's all over the world, they are dedicated, and they stop at nothing. It's as rewarding an event for me as it could possibly be."

Chabad brings Jewish people together from all over the world, Hyman said.  


"May Hashem bring peace to everyone," she said.


Reba Kaufmann of Highland Park said she was there because her daughter was attending Rutgers as a freshman in the fall.


"The Chabad impressed her with its attitude, and it's nice to have Jewish place to go home to," Kaufmann told The Jewish State. 


Liz Mayer, of Ocean, said it is important to honor those that gave back to the community.



Rhoda Chodosh, of Manalapan, said the event was "wonderful," as is the work of the Chabad.


"We love what Carlebach does," Chodosh said.  


Blimling said Chabad attracts many students, and is home to many as well.


"The Chabad House is the only place to get a kosher meal on campus," Blimling said. "We are proud to have Rabbi Yosef Carlebach as part of our Rutgers community and have our continued support and wishes for success."


Hecht said the word Chabad has a distinct threefold meaning.


"Chabad, which was founded in the Russian city of Lubovitch, means love, and Chabad itself means wisdom, understanding, and knowledge," Hecht said. "Chabad has always shown these four things to everyone that has been with them." 


The keynote speaker of the evening was the Governor John S. Corzine. He said that he was honored to have been asked, and said there is no better teacher than Rabbi Yosef Carlebach.  


"He showed me how to dance in the Sukkah and seven weeks after Passover is Shavuous," Corzine said.

Working together with the community for this Chabad has been the greatest honor and has made the Chabad even stronger, Corzine said. 


"Thirty years is very symbolic, and by celebrating here tonight we are committing to the future and making dreams possible, "he said. 


Chabad gives so much back to our community, which is very grateful for Chabad's efforts on its behalf, Corzine said.


"Thirty years is a testimony of vitality to the Chabad organization and it is reflective on the yearning of young people for spiritual nourishment that we all get with Chabad," Corzine said. "This has spread all throughout the community and to the students."


Yosef Carlebach said it was a miraculous dinner, a beautiful powerful event, and the governor really helped.

"It was one big family type of event and no one really wanted to go home," Yosef Carlebach said. "Ultimately I was amazed at how many people were here for the first time." 


The fact it exists in New Brunswick rather than New York or Philadelphia, Carlebach said, truly says something about the people of the community.

"We needed a few good people that were willing to do something if you really wanted to," he said. "So, tonight is a little taste of what is possible and let's pray for eternal peace."



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