The Chabad Centre for Jewish Life and Learning officially opened its doors last week. The last time a synagogue was built on the Island was more than 150 years ago.

New Jewish centre opens its doors

One year ago, a crowd gathered across from Topaz Park to mark the beginning of a new chapter in Jewish life on Vancouver Island.

One year ago, a crowd gathered across from Topaz Park to mark the beginning of a new chapter in Jewish life on Vancouver Island.

It was the ground-breaking ceremony for the Chabad Centre for Jewish Life and Learning — a 10,000-square-foot building that would be the hub for the Island’s Jewish community — and a historic day as well. The last time a synagogue was built on the Island was more than 150 years ago.

A crowd gathered again last week at the same location (2955 Glasgow St.), this time marking the official grand opening. Rabbi Meir Kaplan couldn’t stop smiling.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s the greatest miracle I’ve experienced in my life,” said Kaplan, director of the new centre and the Chabad of Vancouver Island, the group behind the new facility.

“This is significant for Vancouver Island. This shows the devotion and dedication of members of the community and it shows how beautiful the future of our community is going to be.”

According to Kaplan, the $3-million facility has been several years in the making. Three years ago, a building campaign was launched, with Kaplan and his wife leading the effort. The property was purchased a year later, then construction started last fall.

Opening its doors in 1863, Congregation Emanu-El synagogue on Blanshard Street is Canada’s oldest continuously operating synagogue, serving nearly 200 families in the region.

The Chabad Centre, however, follows a different tradition of worship and includes not only a synagogue, but also a family shul, library, kitchen, community room and Mikvah — a ritual bath. There’s also a preschool centre, Hebrew school, senior’s services and daycare centre for children of all backgrounds and affiliations.

“People coming to the centre are from every walk of life, every affiliation, so that makes it even more special,” said Kaplan, who believes the centre will impact the entire Island.

“In the last few decades there was a revival of Jewish life here and this is the testimony for it.”

Under Kaplan’s leadership, in the last 10 years the Chabad of Vancouver Island has grown from a home-based institution to a vibrant centre for Jewish life, serving hundreds of Jewish families with a variety of religious, educational and social programs out of the Quadra Elementary School annex.

Approximately 5,000 to 7,000 Jewish people live on Vancouver Island, the bulk of them in Victoria.

 

 

Just Posted

Police stay quiet on downtown fire investigation

The fire at Victoria’s Plaza Hotel was deemed suspicious on May 14

Former Saanich councillor joins Cordova Bay community association board

Leif Wergeland served on Saanich council for 22 years before retiring from politics in 2018

Cyclists and drivers take to the streets Wednesday morning in first official Bike to Work Week celebration

The 25th annual Greater Victoria Bike to Work Week kicks off the followingMonday, May 27

Police arrest jewelry thieves in same building they allegedly stole from

More than $6,000 worth of jewelry was recovered

Coastline serves up a feast of fiddlers in Oak Bay

Local Juno Award winner musical director for ensemble

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Most British Columbians agree the ‘big one’ is coming, but only 50% are prepared

Only 46 per cent of British Columbians have prepared an emergency kit with supplies they might need

B.C. man to pay Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party $20k over lawsuit

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

RCMP searching for missing Vancouver Island teenager

16-year-old Lasheena Seward was reported missing from a group home in Port Alberni

Sitting and sleeping on downtown sidewalks could net $100 fine in Penticton

The measure, which still requires final approval, would be enforced between May and Sept. 30

B.C. man killed in logging accident ‘would have done anything for anyone’

Wife remembers 43-year old Petr Koncek, father of two children

Most Read