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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Chabad launches Hillsboro center

An influx of Israelis working for one to two years at Intel in Hillsboro has sparked the opening of a new Chabad Center to serve all Jews in the Hillsboro area.

"The Intel community was the push for us to come to Hillsboro," said Rabbi Menachem Rivkin, director of the new center. "Here we have an opportunity to take this push to make this operation for every Jew in Hillsboro."

Rivkin arrived in Oregon Jan. 9 with his wife Chaya and 7-month-old twins Shneur and Margalit. The couple will run a host of programs from their new home at 870 NE Caden Ave. in Hillsboro. As growth permits, a separate location will be added for some programs.

On Jan. 19, the couple hosted their first visitors for what will be weekly erev Shabbat dinner and services, and Shabbat morning services.

Chabad of Hillsboro has already established a Web site, www.chabadh.com, which lists the programs the couple plan to launch in the coming weeks including a Sunday School, preschool, women's club, lunch and learns, b'nai mitzvah lessons and holiday programs.

"Without one program, just through the Internet, we have requests from people already to get involved," said Rivkin. "I would say we are experiencing a very good beginning."

Rivkin said that he will add everyone who contacts him to his email list to receive updates as programs are finalized. For instance, he said he knows the center will host a program for Tu B'Shvat, but he will have to email people details once the event is finalized.

The Hillsboro Chabad Center is the fourth established by Chabad Lubavitch of Oregon. Under the direction of Rabbi Moshe Wilhelm, Chabad of Oregon is headquartered in Portland with additional branches in Ashland and Eugene, where the Chabad House primarily serves students at the University of Oregon.

Rivkin was born and raised in Karmiel, Israel, where his father was sent from New York to open a Chabad Center. While studying in Manhattan, Rivkin met Rabbi Motti Wilhelm, son of the director of Chabad of Oregon. The younger Wilhelm recruited Rivkin to come to Hillsboro to open the center since Rivkin would be a good match to connect with the Israelis at Intel.

Though this will be the first time Rivkin has headed a Chabad Center, he said he has a lifetime of experience to draw on.

"I was born into this idea," he said, noting he spent his childhood at the Karmiel Chabad Center his father directed.

Additionally, he said, "the average Lubavitch guy during the summer is getting exposure to all kinds of programs. I went for a couple of years to Eastern Europe to run programs."

Chaya Rivkin said that "Chabad girls, as well, work in day camps all over the world. In Long Beach, Calif., I was in charge of the preschool day camp."

The rebbetzin will draw on those camp experiences as well as her formal training as a teacher, to open a small preschool at their home in February. For children ages 2-4, the preschool will be open weekdays from 9:15 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Though her previous teaching experience has been at the high school level, she has observed and evaluated students training to be teachers at all grade levels.

She said she believes that "you teach all ages with the same theory. … Bring everything to their level and do it in a way that will catch them so they make it part of their life."

The Sunday school/Hebrew school also will open in February. The Sunday school is designed for children ages 5 to 11 "who go to public school and need some Judaism," said Chaya Rivkin.

For more information on Chabad of Hillsboro programs and events, visit the Web site at www.chabadh.com or call the center at 503-747-5363.

"Call anytime," said Rabbi Rivkin. "This is a 24-hour-a-day job. It's not really a job, it becomes your life."

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