Crowd celebrates 'Jewish oasis'

Chabad Jewish Center dedicated as rabbi, his wife celebrate decade in Vancouver

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

Published:

 
photoJack “Yankl” Falk, from left, Professor Mobesser and Andrew Ehrlich, the Hora Tzigane klezmer band, entertain before Sunday’s dedication at Chabad Jewish Center.

(/The Columbian)

Buy this photo
photoEdie Van Ness talks of her appreciation for the Chabad Jewish Center. At least 175 people attended the dedication.

(/The Columbian)

Buy this photo

It's been 10 years since Rabbi Shmulik and Tzivie Greenberg traveled from Brooklyn to make Vancouver their home.

Time for a celebration, as Chabad Jewish Center on Sunday marked a decade and dedicated its expanded and remodeled center at 9604 N.E. 126th Ave.

"I love the organization," said Marty Rifkin, who with his wife, Kate, owns the 18,000-square-foot building and donated half of the space in it for the center. "I've been part of it since it started."

More than 175 people gathered for the dedication and scissors were given to all, from preschoolers to grandmas, to cut the lime green dedication ribbon.

Speaker Edie Van Ness said the Greenbergs have worked to make the center inclusive.

"Chabad welcomes all and you feel it when you walk through the door," she said, adding every person who comes finds "something that has changed their life for the better."

The center houses a synagogue, the Gan Garrett Preschool, a banquet hall, and is home to a Hebrew Club, a women's club, summer camp and other activities.

Sunday's happy ceremony began with the Hora Tzigane klezmer band entertaining in front of the center. Thirteen flower pots held stakes that supported the dedication ribbon. Traditions were observed and Bruce Mandel sang the shehechiyanu blessing with the band. As the beat increased, the crowd clapped and a mom and her 3-year-old danced in the parking lot.

Rabbi Greenberg and Marty Rifkin hung the mezuzah at the door of the center. The mezuzah has two portions of the Torah in a protective case and tradition says it should be hung at the door of a Jewish home.

A slide show offered testimonials from community members on their love of the center. One woman called the center "a Jewish oasis."

Tzivie Greenberg was among several who praised the Rifkins for their help and support. She noted the couple is known for generous gifts to Share, the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Washington, the Free Clinic and other efforts.

She said she and Shmulik had a dream "to build a center where all Jews could come together and free at home." And she said the Rifkins have been instrumental in making the dream a reality. She said the couple has "the desire to better the lives of those around them."

The rabbi said the center is a "house that nurtures Torah study, prayer and acts of kindness."