After seven years of hosting services and holiday events in their homes, the Oro Valley Jewish community is opening a center to accommodate and satisfy the needs of their established members, as well as many newcomers.
The new 3,300-square-foot center, located at 1171 E. Rancho Vistoso Blvd., opened last month in time for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The location includes a multi-purpose hall that can comfortably seat around 150 people, office space and a new kitchen.
The Chabad of Oro Valley is using this center in hopes of enriching the lives of attendees through Shabbat services, programs for men and women, Hebrew school for children, and other celebrations like Bar Mitzvahs.
“This center has been in the works for well over a year,” said Rabbi Boruch Zimmerman, the Associate Rabbi of Chabad of Oro Valley. “We are very excited to finally have a location that will be able to satisfy the community’s needs and an established address that any Jew knows they can turn to 24/7.”
According to Rabbi Boruch, the Jewish presence in Northwest Tucson has significantly increased in recent years.
Before the center, much of the events and functions were held in the home of co-director, Rabbi Ephriam Zimmerman.
“Aside from raising his six children together with his wife, his home just no longer can accommodate the programs and events that are being offered,” Rabbi Boruch said.
The new center allows community members to have one-on-one conversations with other rabbis, without feeling like they are intruding or invading their homes and privacy, said Rabbi Boruch.
Despite much of their time being spent in limited spaces, Rabbi Boruch said Chabad members have accomplished many things as a community.
In addition, Rabbi Boruch and his wife, Adeli Zimmerman, will take the lead in teaching classes, as well as hosting services and adult programs.
“For me, this center means that we are settled, and that means that our programs and services will be done in a ‘settled’ way,” Rabbi Boruch said.
The programs offered are tailored to individual groups and strive to build better connections with one another.
Judy Katz Esbit, a member of the Chabad, said there are programs where women can build on their sisterhood, men can participate in activities and older individuals can learn from the younger generation, and vice versa.
For Esbit, this new center is the most progress she’s seen in years.
“[The center] will help continue the gateway to helping us grow and reach out into the community and offer what the community is interested in having,” Esbit said.
One of many hopes for Esbit is that the new center can help educate the surrounding community on the Jewish religion and the enormous history behind it.
“If we can educate the people around us, what a happier, healthier, and peaceful world we would have,” Esbit said.
With the Jewish High Holidays approaching, the Chabad of Oro Valley plans to have the center open just in time for their festivities.
This week, on the evening of Oct. 8 until nightfall on Oct. 9, they will celebrate Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. This holiday is observed by fasting and praying for forgiveness for the sins committed in the past year.
The Chabad of Oro Valley expects these events will be successful, especially because people will get a first taste of the new building.
While it is an orthodox organization, the Chabad of Oro Valley encourages anyone to join their services and celebrations.
“It doesn’t matter what your religious background is,” Esbit said. “We welcome you to come and be a part of our community to learn and grow with us.”
Vianney Cardenas is a University of Arizona journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.