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New Jewish center opens in Escondido in time for Hanukkah

Rabbi Meir, Chevy, Chaya & Mendel Friedman.

Rabbi Meir and Chevy Friedman to Direct Chabad Center

Ahead of the upcoming holiday of Hanukkah, the festival of light, Rabbi Meir and Chevy Friedman are set to establish a new Chabad Jewish center to serve the growing needs of the Escondido Jewish community. 

And with Hanukkah around the corner, they’re inviting everyone to join a community-wide Hanukkah celebration at Harmony Grove Village 4th of July Park from 3:45 – 5 p.m. on Thursday, December 2, which will feature a menorah-lighting, Hanukkah treats, lively music and activities for children.

Over the past few years, Escondido has seen a surge in population growth, with many young families moving in, and the Jewish community is no exception. The Chabad center will be an address for everything Jewish, providing services to Jews of all denominations and backgrounds in the greater Escondido area. Prayer services, Hebrew school, Shabbat dinners, holiday programs and community events will all run out of the center.

“We hope to provide every Jew in Escondido with the opportunity to connect with their heritage and with Jewish tradition,” Rabbi Meir Friedman told The Times-Advocate. “There was a growing need to expand and enrich Jewish life in the Escondido community and after we visited and met many local residents, we decided to make Escondido our home!” 

The opening of a new Chabad center in Escondido comes amid a growing awareness of Chabad-Lubavitch’s indelible impact on Jewish life.  Pew Research Center’s 2020 survey of Jewish Americans showed that 38% of all American Jews have participated in Chabad activities and services, of whom more than 75 percent do not identify as Orthodox. 

The Friedmans come to Escondido with a history in Jewish leadership roles and outreach. Rabbi Meir has served as a student rabbi in communities across the world, where he has led holiday programs and Shabbat services. Chevy has served in communal leadership roles including at several Chabad centers.

The Friedmans say that they were inspired by the teachings of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. They said, “In a time when more and more people are searching for meaning and fulfillment in their lives, the Rebbe taught that the Torah is the blueprint for a meaningful life, and its relevance to every aspect of life continues in the modern era.”

The new center is part of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement—known for its active and all-inclusive approach to Jewish outreach—and seeks to provide services to Jews of all denominations, regardless of affiliation, specifically those who live in areas where there is little or no Jewish institutional presence. To date, Chabad runs more some 3,500 educational, religious and social service institutions in more than 100 countries around the globe.

For more information on the Chabad Jewish center, contact Rabbi Meir Friedman at (347) 533-2655 or Rabbi@ChabadEscondido.org, or visit ChabadEscondido.org.

About Hanukkah

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, begins this year on the evening of Sunday, November 28 and concludes the evening of Monday, December 6. It recalls the victory of a militarily weak Jewish people who defeated the Syrian-Greeks who had overrun ancient Israel and sought to impose restrictions on the Jewish way of life and prohibit religious freedom. They also desecrated and defiled the Temple and the oils prepared for the lighting of the menorah, which was part of the daily service. Upon recapturing the Temple only one jar of undefiled oil was found, enough to burn only one day, but it lasted miraculously for eight. In commemoration, Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting an eight-branched candelabrum known as a menorah. Today, people of all faiths consider the holiday a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness. Additional information about the Hanukkah holiday is available at www.Chabad.org/Hanukkah.

About  Chabad Of Escondido

Chabad of Escondido offers Jewish education, outreach and social service programming for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations. For more information visit ChabadEscondido.org.

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