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Friday, November 25, 2005

Change of venue for Chabad Center's High Holidays

By Jason Bedrick/ Special To The Townsman
Thursday, November 17, 2005

For Rabbi Moshe Bleich of Wellesley-Weston Chabad, the Jewish month of Tishrei is the busiest time of the year. Usually falling during the months of September and October, the month of Tishrei contains the "High Holidays" of Rosh HaShannah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) as well as week-long festival of Sukkot where Jews build and dwell in "sukkahs" which are temporary hut-like structures with roofs made of twigs and leaves. In years past, Rabbi Bleich and his congregation gathered in the Wellesley Inn for High Holiday services so when the rabbi heard the news of the Inn's closing, he scrambled to find another location. Fortunately, Jim Gordon of Eastern Development offered the use of the now-empty offices located at 170 Linden St. Still in need of chairs and other equipment to serve the almost 250 people who planned on attending services over the course of the holidays, Rabbi Bleich turned to Holly Grace, project manager of Spaulding & Slye Colliers. "We were very happy to be able to help a Wellesley community organization," said Grace, "When the
Wellesley-Weston Chabad approached us with their need, it was clear that we could provide them with useful items in time for the holidays."
Eleven members of the community, including students at Babson and Wellesley College, helped set up the synagogue in advance, and dozens of others made contributions making this year's High Holidays a huge
community effort. "I've been coming to the holiday services for several years and this year was by far the best," said Jesse Greenberg, president of the Wellesley-Weston Chabad congregation. "The convenient location and
the large and involved congregation made for a wonderful experience." The Chabad Rosh Hashanah services on Oct. 4, 5 and 6, and Yom Kippur services on Oct. 11 and 12 were the only free holiday services for
miles around.
The following week marked the beginning of Sukkot. During Sukkot, Jewish tradition is to eat all of one's meals inside the sukkah. Despite cold and rain, dozens of people joined Rabbi Bleich's family each day to eat, sing and celebrate. In fact, though Chabad had only planned on having one public dinner (outdoor in the cold) for 50 people, it was so crowded that he held a second Sukkot dinner the next night for 40 more.
Fortunately, the rain abated for the biggest event of the week. More than three dozen students from Babson and Wellesley College gathered under Rabbi Bleich's sukkah for "Hookah in Da Sukkah," a fun-filled event where students smoked nargila, a flavored tobacco popular in Israel and the Middle East, and learned about the holiday while listening to music andeating pita with hummus and other authentic Israeli foods. The event was co-sponsored by the Babson chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi, the Jewish fraternity.
Rabbi Bleich also celebrated the opening of the new Alpha Epsilon Pi tower at Babson College by putting up mezuzahs, which are small pieces of parchment containing biblical verses inside decorated covers, on 17
doors inside the tower, in accordance with Jewish law. The president of the Babson chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi, Joshua Neman, expressed gratitude for the support. "The brothers of appreciate Rabbi Bleich's continued support
for our goal to maintain a Jewish home on campus," said Neman. Though usually expensive, Rabbi Bleich found an anonymous philanthropist who donated all the mezuzahs.
Rabbi Bleich will soon be moving with his wife, Geni, and their three children, Mendel, Ephraim, and Esther, to a new house on Route 9. As the community continues to grow, the rabbi is also working to acquire facilities that will allow him to better tend to the needs of the community through prayer and programming.

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