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Old Greenwich, Connecticut, Gets Infusion of Jewish Community

Storied Chabad-Lubavitch Emissary Family Sees Sixth Generation Embark to Lead American Jewish Community

To walk down Sound Beach Avenue in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, is to experience a slice of Americana. Colonial homes surrounded by white picket fences and manicured shrubs are a picture of historic New England. It is fitting that the family who will serve as the Chabad-Lubavitch shluchim to Old Greenwich, which traces its history back nearly 400 years, are fifth- and sixth-generation shluchim to the United States.

Rabbi Boruch and Chaya Ceitlin, who recently launched Chabad of Old Greenwich and neighboring Riverside, say that serving as Chabad emissaries in Connecticut came naturally to them. “I grew up here observing the work my parents—Rabbi Yossi and Maryashi Deren—do at Chabad of Greenwich, and taking part in the growth of the Jewish community in Western Connecticut,” Chaya Ceitlin said. “It became apparent that there is a need for an additional Chabad center in Old Greenwich, which has been underserved until now in terms of Jewish infrastructure.”

The Ceitlins trace their service as Chabad-Lubavitch shluchim to Chaya’s great-great-grandfather, Rabbi Sholom Posner, who came to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1943.  As an emissary of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Posner opened the city’s first Jewish day school, the Yeshiva Schools and Lubavitch Center of Pittsburgh. Posner’s daughter, Kenny Deren, served as the principal in Yeshiva Schools for more than thirty years, and her son Rabbi Yisrael Deren and his wife Rebbetzin Vivi have been representatives of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to Western and Southern New England since 1974. Deren’s son, Yossi, directs Chabad of Greenwich with his wife Maryashie, and their daughter, Chaya Ceitlin, will now direct Chabad of Old Greenwich and Riverside with her husband, Rabbi Boruch Ceitlin, and their two young children, making them sixth-generation American Chabad-Lubavitch shluchim.

Chaya Ceitlin says that choosing to embark on this lifelong mission was something she and her husband each came to on their own, but they were buoyed by the generations that came before them. “To be going out as shluchim not only because our parents and grandparents did, but because it’s something we want, yet at the same time to be standing on the shoulders of four generations before us who all led their lives with such a mission and purpose, is such an honor, it’s so humbling to have those role models and that support,” Chaya Ceitlin told Lubavitch.com. “We feel lucky to have that, and we feel blessed that we can be passing on this life to our children.”

Rabbi Boruch Ceitlin says that unlike much of the area, where properties are expansive and can feel distant from each other, Old Greenwich and Riverside have a distinctly different feel that makes them ripe for community development. “Old Greenwich and Riverside are a very community-oriented area; close-knit, everything is within walking distance,” Rabbi Boruch Ceitlin said. “Everyone moving here is looking for community, looking for connection.” 

In the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in Israel and the subsequent spike in antisemitism around the world, the Ceitlins realized that the need for community was more urgent than ever.

“In the months since October 7, there has been a tremendous awakening in Jews all over Greenwich,” Ceitlin said. “That is one of the reasons we expedited our move to fill that need that all the Jewish people have right now.”

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