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Hundreds of Young Professionals Gather in Crown Heights for Connection, Exploration, and Empowerment

Chabad Young Professionals’ Encounter: Crown Heights Answers: “What Can I Do to Make a Difference?”

Back home, they’re executives, entrepreneurs, and leaders. They’re making “30 Under 30” lists. They’re the next generation of Jewish leaders and advocates.

But here in Crown Heights, they’ve donned aprons, dusted their hands with flour, and are carefully following step-by-step challah-braiding directions as patiently taught by Mrs. Rochie Pinson, who literally wrote the book on making challah.

Photo Credit: Sadya Liberow

It’s the start of Encounter: Crown Heights, and these young professionals have flocked to the Brooklyn neighborhood to immerse themselves in their Jewish heritage, connect with fellow Jews, and be empowered to effect real positive change in their own communities back home.

The weekend, which was hosted by Chabad Young Professionals, a division of Merkos 302, included visits to Chabad Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway; a firsthand look at the process of handwriting Torah scrolls, tefillin, and mezuzot; a tour of a mikvah; and ample opportunity to study, celebrate, feast, and connect. 

Photo Credit: Shalom Ross

A highlight of the event was a musical Havdalah ceremony and concert with Bentzi Marcus of the Hasidic pop rock band 8th Day. Hundreds sang, danced, and were inspired to make their Judaism a priority in their lives. One of the attendees was Josh Hoffman, a PhD student and computer scientist from Austin, Texas. “The concert was a reminder that when we put our Judaism first, life is more uplifting, inspiring, and meaningful,” Hoffman said. 

Hoffman’s Chabad rabbi, Rabbi Mendel Levertov, says that the weekend’s inspiration comes amid a growing determination among many to ensure their Jewish future in response to the acts of hatred on Oct. 7. “I’ve never seen this level of enthusiasm,” says Levertov, who directs Chabad Young Professionals in Austin, Texas. “People are getting serious about marrying Jewish.”

Photo Credit: Shalom Ross
Photo Credit: Shalom Ross
Photo Credit: Shalom Ross
Photo Credit: Shalom Ross

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