After fifteen years of fostering Jewish life in sunny California, Rabbi Shmuly Schlanger and his wife Esther have finally opened the doors to the permanent home of Chabad of Bakersfield.
In late August, community members and supporters joined Chabad of Bakersfield for a ribbon-cutting ceremony of the newly dedicated Setton-Cohen Chabad Jewish Community Center.
Sprawled across some 6.5 acres, the new 10,000-square foot center is surrounded by ball fields and tennis courts. It will eventually include a sanctuary, social hall, full kitchen, educational wing, and a large outdoor space perfect for a sukkah and outdoor events.
“We aim to imbue Judaism with excitement for Bakersfield’s Jewish children, beyond the requisite Hebrew school and bar and bat mitzvah lessons,” Schlanger explains.
The new center will include a pop-up deli offering New York style pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, pop up shops, hands on holiday workshops for kids, weekly challah sales, a tefillin club, and an all-inclusive lounge with ping pong tables and projection screens.The hope, the rabbi explains, is that kids will hang out and relax after Hebrew school, and enjoy kosher hot dog doing so.
Because of its central location, the new center has already attracted many visitors who are interested in learning more about what Chabad has to offer.
One curious woman asked the rabbi if Chabad is ‘for her.’
“Chabad doesn’t discriminate and everyone is welcome,” Schlanger told her.
The woman smiled. “I’ll be back.”
To learn more about Chabad of Bakersfield, visit www.chabadofbakersfield.com.