In large and bustling cities, it can be easy to feel disconnected. Faith-based organizations can provide structure and a group of people to connect to. In Newton, the Beth Menachem Chabad is a synagogue and community center dedicated to building a strong Jewish community by offering not only religious services, but also educational classes, holiday celebrations, and volunteer opportunities for teens.
The Beth Menachem Chabad was opened in 2000 with the goal of influencing Jewish lives and helping the Jewish community to thrive. To this end, the Chabad offers classes of all kinds, geared toward everyone from Pre-K young children to adults. The Jewish Creative Preschool offers a supportive environment that is, "based on the principles of Piaget and Dewey, which respect the natural development of children."
As the children grow, they can enter the Chabad Hebrew School, which teaches Jewish traditions and heritage to build Jewish pride. C-Teen is the next step, encourages teens to volunteer in the community.
Rabbi Shalom Prus emphasizes the importance of teen-community interaction: "Being involved in your faith while growing up gives an adolescent a sense of community, purpose, and meaning. The involvement helps them cope through the school stress or peer pressure and competitiveness. Their faith helps them with structure and direction navigating through life."
Finally, the Chabad welcomes adults of all affiliations or backgrounds to join the Jewish Learning Institute. The classes offered are for a range of students- from those who have no Jewish education to those who have been under consistent Jewish teachings.
The Chabad also supports the community by hosting events. The organization understands that some families do not have strong affiliations with specific synagogues and encourages families to choose their location to hold Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. Families are welcome to hold their holiday celebrations here, as well. The goal? To "create a warm, welcoming environment," says Rabbi Prus. "Throughout the year we have community wide holiday celebrations, speaker series and social events."
Regardless of Jewish history or affiliation, the Beth Menachem Chabad welcomes all. Rabbi Prus underscores the importance of what a community like the Chabad offers: "Studies show that people that are actively involved with a community and are involved with religion tend to be more happy. Happiness generally increases a person's longevity, creativity, and they are able to accomplish more. When everyone is involved and engaged with their respective communities in all, we will have a stronger city."
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