Last Thursday, the mayor and his wife were there, the county commissioner was there and the owner of The Town Crier newspaper was there. They were participating in the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremonies for the new Chabad Jewish Center in the West Palm Beach village of Wellington, Florida.
Wellington's excellent quality of life has made this six year old community one of the fastest growing in the county and The Chabad Jewish Center, under the direction of Rabbi Mendy and Miriam Muskal, has been growing along with it.
Palm Beach Mayor Tom Wenham, in his remarks to the large crowd of supporters and well-wishers said that “It's great to see our community growing in so many directions. We are especially proud of the Chabad Organization and the impact they have had here in Wellington on so many families.”
The new facility, located in the Wellington Plaza Shopping Center boasts a synagogue and multi purpose room, kitchen, offices and Hebrew school classrooms. It has space for the ongoing adult education classes and for the youth and teen divisions.
When the Muskals took up residence in Wellington in 1999, they invited all three of the Jewish families they knew to a meeting in their living room to formulate start up plans for Chabad.
“We didn’t really know where to begin” recalls Rabbi Muskal, “but as it was only eight weeks before the High Holidays, one thing we knew for sure - we needed a place to conduct services.” The Muskals were to learn that Wellington has very strict zoning laws and finding a suitable facility was no simple task.
“Muskal remembers that “In an act of Divine providence, I happened to walk into a place that had chairs and tables arranged and I asked them why they were set up. I was told "this is a meeting place." "Who meets here"? I asked. “Anyone that wants to” was the answer. And so began Chabad of Wellington.
That first Rosh Hashana they had enough people to make a minyan. By the second year, they were in a rented public school building and this past High Holiday season, they had almost 200 adults and children in their new location.
Wellington has the distinction of being a community that has the highest ratio of children to adults in the county. That’s an important demographic to the Muskals, who place a premium on children’s outreach activities.
The Chabad Hebrew School which had been meeting in various rental locations and even in the Muskal home, was badly in need of additional space.“This new location allows us to enroll more children” says Muskal “and children are the future of this and every Jewish community.”