Chabad of the Conejo opened the doors of its new Center for Jewish Life to the public on Sunday, celebrating with live music, an impressive speaker list and many declarations of “mazel tov.”
“It’s a wonderful day,” Rabbi Moshe Bryski told Patch after the ceremony. “It’s the day we’ve been dreaming about for a very long time.”
The new state-of-the-art building is equipped with classrooms, office and meeting space and is designed to be a place for more adult education, teen outreach, Hebrew School programs and activities for senior citizens and children with special needs.
Among the speakers were Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, radio personality Dennis Prager, Consul General of Israel David Siegel, Agoura Hills Mayor Harry Schwarz, Thousand Oaks Mayor Andrew Fox and Rabbi Joshua B. Gordon, executive director of Chabad of the Valley.
The speakers spoke about themes of unity, overcoming great obstacles and leaving behind fruits of their labor for their children.
Among the stories told that day, Rabbi Bryski recounted the tale of an old farmer who toiled away planting trees. When his neighbors told him he was foolish to work so hard planting trees whose fruit he would not live to enjoy, he replied: “As my ancestors planted for me, so I now plant for my grandchildren.”
“That, my friends, is the story of the Jewish people,” Bryski said. “We not only live for ourselves—we not only live for today—we live with a broader view of history, a grander picture of the world and a deeper appreciation for the impact we are meant to have on it.”
He compared that story to the labor put into the building of the new center, illustrating the hope that it will last for generations to come.
“I’ve been a supporter of Chabad for many years,” said Schwarz. “They have helped people keep their homes. They have provided food for people. They have wonderful souls and they are a positive part of our community. And I’m so happy that they are opening a Jewish center for life. It’s something they’ve dreamt about for a long time.”
Another common theme was a desire to see the building fully utilized. “We want this to be everyone’s home; we want people to feel comfortable.” said administrator Leah Weiss. “I’m overwhelmed with joy, with pride, with just a sense of ownership. We all have ownership.“
Bryski shared the desire that the facility will be a bustling center of activity. “My hope for this center is that it will be blessed with activity from morning until evening–children, teenagers, adults, senior citizens, children with special needs, everyone will have usage of this facility,” he said.
The Jewish Center for Life is phase one of a two phase project. The next step is to complete a new synagogue and lecture hall on the front parcel of land. The two together will be known as the Chabad of the Conejo Community Campus.