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Rutgers Chabad to start expansion
by Debra Rubin - NJJN

Chabad House at Rutgers University expects to break ground in September on a $10 million expansion.

The 55,000-square-foot addition will add a boys’ dormitory, expand the dining facilities, and create the first Sephardic synagogue on a public college campus in the nation, according to Chabad director Rabbi Yosef Carlebach.

An architectural sketch of part of the new 55,000-square-foot, $10-million addition to Chabad House at Rutgers University. Chabad expects to break ground in September on the expansion, which will include the nation’s first Sephardic synagogue on a public college campus.

“When this is completed, this building will be 90,000 square feet,” said Carlebach, discussing the plans July 2 in his upper-floor office at the Chabad House on College Avenue on the New Brunswick campus. “There is no such Chabad building of this size anywhere in the world at a public university.”

The plans also call for upgrading the current house and doubling its Ashkenazi synagogue to seat 300. The project is expected to take 20-24 months to complete, said Carlebach.

About 45 percent of the funds needed for the expansion have already been raised by Chabad, said the rabbi.

Carlebach said the need for an expansion was apparent almost as soon as the 35,000- square-foot Les Turchin Chabad House opened in 1996.

“By the time we opened, we had 300 kids signed up for kosher dining,” said Carlebach. “Ever since, we’ve had too little space every Friday night.”

Chabad, a hasidic movement known for its outreach to Orthodox and non-Orthodox students, offers the only full kosher meal plan on Rutgers’ sprawling campus. Some 5,000 Jewish undergraduates and 1,000 Jewish grad students attend the university.

To make way for the expansion, Chabad struck a “comprehensive” deal with the university, in which Rutgers turned over contiguous property on Senior Street just behind Chabad House. Under the agreement, Chabad purchased a piece of property on College Avenue that the university couldn’t buy and “swapped” it for three houses used for recruitment and meetings by the campus ROTC and the Air Force, said Carlebach. The military offices were then moved to other sites on campus. The houses are slated to be demolished within the coming weeks.

Chabad also owns property on Sicard Street near the current building.

"We are holding onto the site because we may use it for more dorms or another facility some time in the future,” said Carlebach.

The Chabad addition comes at the same time that Rutgers Hillel is raising $15 million to build a new three-story, 35,000- square-foot building at George Street and Bishop Place to replace its cramped campus facility on College Avenue. The new Hillel will feature a large dining area, kosher cafe, classrooms, offices, an Israel resource center, computer lab, exhibit gallery, social lounge, and prayer space for all denominations.

The addition of 70 rooms for male students in Chabad’s Scott Turchin Dormitory, named for Les Turchin’s son, is a first for Chabad, which already has 37 dorm beds for women. Each room will be equipped with WiFi Internet access and its own shower, be cable-TV ready, and have self-regulating heating and air conditioning.

The expansion will also include new lounges, an international coffeehouse, an art studio, a soundproof music room, new kitchen facilities, a multipurpose room, and male and female exercise rooms.

“When we remodeled the building,we felt we had to include a Sephardi synagogue because of the large influx of Sephardi students from Brooklyn and Deal,” said Carlebach, who estimated there were 300 to 400 such students at Rutgers.

A Sephardi Torah scroll was donated last year to the new shul by Joe and Karen Shabot of Deal. The synagogue is estimated to cost $650,000.

The addition was designed by the architectural firm of Rotwein & Blake of Livingston. Also working on it has been Ron Weiss of the Weiss Design Group in Livingston.

For more information, contact Carlebach at 732-296-1800 or at





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