Rabbi Yaacov and his wife Ita Leaf, along with their two children, are hoping to establish a Chabad presence in Montclair to serve the needs of the local and surrounding Jewish community.
Chabad, a global movement with over 3,000 branches in 65 countries, is a Hasidic movement that adheres to the Orthodox practice of Judaism. According to Rabbi Yaacov, “Chabad advances the goal that every Jew have the opportunity for Jewish discovery within a context of open-minded exploration, regardless of background or affiliation.”
Yaacov, who was born in Israel and raised in Detroit, MI, and Ita, who grew up in West Orange where her parents — Rabbi Boruch and Devorah Klar — have served as the directors of Chabad of Essex County since 1980, hope to establish “a place where Judaism will be celebrated with joy and meaning, adding depth and perspective to daily life. With opportunities to expand the mind, excite the heart and touch the soul, they plan to offer a wide range of learning programs for all ages.” They name the Lubavitcher Rebbe, whose message was to bring the joy and relevance of Judaism to the world in an open-minded and non-judgmental way, as their inspiration.
The Leafs moved to Montclair in July, from Brooklyn.
“The charm and diversity of the town is really what attracted us to Montclair, coupled with the fact that Montclair as a town seems to have it all, with the exception of a Chabad,” says Yacoov. He believes there is a sizable and growing Jewish population in Montclair, as well as a growing Jewish student body at Montclair State University. With their Chabad, they plan on servicing the local Jewish community and contributing to the already present Jewish infrastructure.
Some of the programs that will be offered a the Chabad Montclair are:
- High holiday beginners service (for those who may not feel comfortable, or don’t belong to a synagogue) Chabad doesn’t charge membership fees or dues.
- Kabbalah classes, studying the inner dimensions of the Torah and learning how to incorporate those teachings into your life.
- “Shabbat house” a Friday night Shabbat dinner experience, open to all, to experience firsthand the beauty of Shabbat.
- “Pop-up Shabbat” bringing Shabbat to the people, we’ll bring Shabbat to your home, invite your friends, who will feel more comfortable in your home, we’ll do the rest.
- JLI – Jewish learning institute. Intellectually challenging courses covering modern-day issues and seeing the Torah’s timeless prospective.
- Lunch & learn – have no time to study? They’ll come to your office and study over lunch, Just pick a Jewish topic.
- One-on-one Torah study.
- Challah Baking
- Kosher cooking classes
- Chesed projects – Packing food for the needy
For now, The Leafs will be renting spaces for some of the programs and activities, as well as using their home for Shabbat dinners and some classes. The first event will be High-Holiday services:
- Rosh Hashana services will take place in The Clubhouse, 131 Glenridge Avenue, Montclair, September 25-26 at 10 am.
- Yom Kippur services, October 3, 630 pm and October 4 at 10 am, at 3 Prospect Way, Montclair