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May 10, 2012 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-05-10

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metro >> on the cover



Lubavitch Yeshiva Eduational Center's
expanded new home almost ready.

e a c h

Shelli Liebman Dorfman I Contributing Writer


Jewish movement with roots in Chasidism,
their precious few after-school hours are
spent doing Jewish outreach. Currently,
more than 100 male students in elementary,
middle school, high school and rabbini-
cal school rotate the use of five dassrooms
inside the Congregation Mishkan Israel
synagogue building in Oak Park, where the
school has been based since its founding in
1965 with three students.
Late this summer, the building will be left
to the elementary students, with the upper
divisions beginning the school year in a new
educational facility built on the Harry and
Wanda Zekelman Campus, with most also
living in dorm rooms on the 4-acre site.
In 1990, there were about 25 students;
now with 100, the school has more than out-
grown its current facility
"The students are in the building nearly
24/7, some of them for six years straight, so
they really need the additional space,' said
Rabbi Mendel Shemtov, one of the school's
directors. "The students and staff are very
much looking forward to being in a more
comfortable atmosphere more conducive to

Continuing Legacy
A significant component of Chabad is com-
mitment to Jewish outreach, with many in
the movement becoming shluchim, or emis-
saries of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi
Menachem Mendel Schneerson, whose
mission included sending young couples
throughout the world to bring Jews closer to
"The goal of the school is to secure the
future of Judaism, and we can do that by
preparing these young men for this work':
said Shemtov, whose parents Rabbi Berel
and Batsheva Shemtov came from Brooklyn
in 1958 as Detroit's head shluchim, sent here
directly by the Rebbe.
"In addition to receiving a Jewish educa-
tion and going on to have Jewish homes
with Jewish families, they are also fully
committed to going to the far corners of
the world doing whatever it takes to further
the mission of the continuity of the Jewish
Shemtov, who attended the school from


May 10 • 2012

the business owners and they, in turn, get
hands-on experience, which is so vital to
them, by spending every week for years and
years having conversations with people not
in their `shtetl: Sometimes they meet with
the same people three or four years in a
row. They develop a relationship and many
keep in touch after they finish school."

Donors Alan and Lori Zekelman at the July 10 groundbreaking ceremony for
the new campus

elementary through the rabbinate, said,
"The education here is unique because we
are primarily focused on not just imbuing
a scholastic education, but in attracting
students committed to devoting their lives
to work hard to embrace the philosophy of
the Rebbe in doing this outreach work They
learn that every Jew is highly important and
should be a priority, no matter what his or
her religious observance level.
"Our students devote their lives to the
service of the Jewish people; it's Jewish edu-
cation with a mission to instill compassion
for every human being and a love for com-
munity service'
That was the impetus for Yudi Namdar,
15, who came to the school last year from
Gothenburg, Sweden. "We chose Detroit
because my parents based their decision on
my education by the quality of the school
and the learning, not on the convenience of
a closer location': said Namdar, whose three
older brothers also attended the school. "The
plan to become a shaliach is the reason why
most kids are here:'
Many of his classmates are the sons of
shluchim, as is he. "The shluchim found a
great school for their kids, and the kids of
shluchim make up a great school," Namdar

Student Outreach
"The students work so hard in school and

have only three or four hours of free time
each week from after school on Friday until
Shabbat," Shemtov said. "But instead of
buying doughnuts or playing games, they
choose to do work with the Jewish com-
The teens run the school's Chabad
Student Outreach program.
On Chanukah, they distribute small
menorahs throughout the community —
in malls, shopping plazas and universities
— and build huge ones to attach to vehicles
and drive through town in a parade. On
Passover, they distribute handmade shmu-
rah matzah; on Sukkot, they build and park
mobile sukkot, inviting Jewish lissersby
to come in and make the blessing over the
lulav and etrog. The Megillah Hotline is set
up on Purim for homebound callers who
want to have a student come read Megillat
Esther to them.
Many also go to senior apartments to
visit with residents.
And, on a weekly basis during the school
year, the middle and high school students
visit Jewish businessmen and women on
Friday afternoons before Shabbat.
"They walk one, two, three miles to
meet with them in their offices or stores;'
Shemtov said. "This is not mandatory; it's
completely on their own, and both the busi-
ness owners and the students benefit. The
students share what they've learned with

Friday Boys
Jerry Beale met his first pair of students
when they came into his office 12 years
ago. "They asked directly if there were
any Jewish employees in the office' Beale
said. A dozen years later, several pairs of
students have visited both Beale and other
Jewish men who work at the Beale Group in
"I absolutely look forward to the visits of
the young men; it is one of the highlights of
my week," he said."We discuss the weekly
portion of the Torah and get into questions
relative to Judaism that have relevance to
my beliefs." Many students help the busi-
nessmen put on tefillin during their visits,
but Beale does that on his own earlier in
the day.
"I have kept in touch with a few of the
young men after they have graduated': he
said."We have gone boating and gotten
together for various other occasions. Since
some have moved out of the country, our
involvement is basically a call and discus-
sion of life as we have become friends over
the years."
In addition to the Friday meetings, the
students read the megillah on Purim for a
group that includes Beale's wife, Gail, and
other community members.
"What I have liked over the years is
that these young men have been non-
judgmental and have been very supportive
of me and my family' Beale said."We have
achieved a strong bond and friendship.
These young men have been a source of
light when our family endured a tragedy as
well as on happy occasions."

Near And Very Far
Remarkably, the students of the Lubavitch
Yeshiva Educational Center come to the
Detroit area to study and do outreach work

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