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.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Architect plans to revitalize Victoria ‘gateways,’ including Wellburns building

Wood-construction apartments planned for Scott, Wellburn’s buildings

Arrest made after hydraulic rescue pump stolen from temporary Saanich fire hall

VicPD K-9 unit called in to help locate suspect, stolen equipment

CRD explores option to use Oak Bay Lodge for people who are homeless

Motion asks staff to work with BC Housing, Island Health on possibilities

Woman who talked to unconscious husband, a Victoria police officer, for 30 years focus of study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

Public tips lead to arrest in alleged random assault on Victoria bus

June 19 incident was recorded by onboard camera

Horgan says B.C. restart making gains as more people come out of their homes

B.C. announced the easing of more restrictions on businesses, recreation and travel last month

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

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

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

Conservatives say police should be called into investigate WE charity scandal

Trudeau is already under investigation by the ethics commissioner for potential conflict of interest

Amber Alert continues for missing Quebec girls, 6 and 11, and their father

Police issued the alert for Norah Carpentier, 11, and Romy Carpentier, 6, from Levis, Que.

Limit police access to lethal weapons in Indigenous communities: Justice Summit

Grassroots-organized National Indigenous Justice Summit was a free-to-attend two-day videoconference

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

B.C. ports part of data integration project to protect marine ecosystems

The $1.2 M federally funded program will draw crucial baseline data from Canada’s three coastlines

Most Read