Almost 200 political, religious, business, and university leaders from across the state came together at Chabad House at Rutgers University Dec. 17 in New Brunswick to celebrate Hanukka and raise $300,000 for its $10 million expansion.
The figure brings the total raised so far over the $5 million mark, according to its executive director Rabbi Yosef Carlebach.
Carlebach said the project remains on track for completion in September despite the grim economic picture.
“This is the roughest I’ve ever seen it,” acknowledged Carlebach. “But as we saw, there are still good people who see something happening before their eyes, and they responded.”
The 55,000-square-foot expansion will include dining facilities and a 72-bed boys’ dormitory, to be named in memory of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg, the Chabad emissaries killed last year in a terrorist attack in India. The project will also add the first Sephardi synagogue on a public college campus in the nation. Chabad draws between 300 and 500 students for weekly dinners.
At the event, Lt. Gov.-elect Kim Guadagno praised the Jewish community “as a valuable asset” to the state and singled out Chabad for its work on behalf of Rutgers’ Jewish students.
“We need things like Chabad and the kind of work they are doing here, [which] brings light and hope,” said Guadagno.
Benjamin Krasna, deputy Israeli consul general and a Rutgers graduate, stressed the many commonalities between Israel and New Jersey.
He said the plan to name the dormitory for the Holtzbergs reminded Israelis, Jews, Americans, and the free world that they must remain vigilant against terrorism.
The Chabad couple “were there doing Torah work,” Krasna said. “Their sacrifice shows us that our commitment must never stop.”