Couple brings Chabad Jewish center to Shelton
With the celebration of Hanukkah nearing, Jews in the Shelton and Monroe area can now rejoice right in their own city.
Rabbi Shneur Brook and his wife, Leah, natives of the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y., have planted roots on Soundview Avenue and, right out of their home, created the Chabad of Shelton-Monroe — all with an eye toward meeting a need that the couple sees the area lacking.
“What we found is that the Shelton, Monroe area had no place for Jews to worship, to come together,” said Shneur, who moved to the city just less than a month ago. “But we’ve only been here a few weeks, and we have already made so many connections.”
Shneur, from a family in which he is one of 15 children, has a sister operating a Chabad in Fairfield, and it was through her that the Brooks learned that there was a strong contingent of Jewish families in the area who have to travel, some to his sister in Fairfield, to find a place to gather with others of their faith.
“We offer the opportunity for them to stay local,” said Shneur.
And the Brook’s Soundview Avenue home is the base of operations at this point. The couple has already hosted Chabad meals with small groups at their home, which will also act as the location for a variety of community and social services.
The Brooks said the Chabad of Shelton-Monroe will be available for newborn care/baby naming; bar/bat mitzvah instruction; marriage prep; hospital and senior visitation; and funeral services as well as offering youth and adult educational programs. For the Jewish year, Shneur said that the center will offer Shabbat dinners and services; high holiday services; holiday events and learning; and synagogue.
After having met so many Jewish families in the Shelton-Monroe area, the Brooks have already planned their first major event — a menorah lighting titled Light Up Our Town on Thursday, Dec. 6, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Huntington Green.
The Brooks come from a sect of Orthodox Judaism that Leah says looks at all Jews as being precious, whether actively practicing their religion or not, and as such should have the place to come together with other Jews to commune or worship.
Shneur said that Chabad calls for young couples, such as themselves, to move to areas around the world to establish Jewish centers. The couple was originally on track to move to Omaha, Neb., but the plans with the Jewish center in that area fell through, which opened the door for a trek to Shelton.
“We are here to stay,” said Shneur, adding that when the couples move to an area to start a Chabad center, it always considered a long-term commitment. “We are here to establish a Jewish center and raise Jewish awareness.”
The Chabad movement was brought to the United States in the 1930s. From there, Chabad has grown into one of the largest and most widespread Jewish movements in the world.
Chabad institutions provide outreach to unaffiliated Jews and humanitarian aid, as well as religious, cultural and educational activities at Chabad-run community centers, synagogues, schools, camps, and soup kitchens. The movement is thought to number between 40,000 and 200,000 adherents.
Shneur studied in Yeshivas in Toronto and Montreal, Canada, as well as in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he later returned as a mentor for the students. He received his rabbinic ordination in Boca Raton, Fla., where he studied and was tested under the authority of Rabbi Dovid Shochat. As part of his rabbinic training, Rabbi Brook served as a teacher and mentor in Ohr Elchonon Yeshiva in Los Angeles, Calif.
Leah attended Beit Chana Seminary in Tzfat, Israel, followed by Beth Rivkah Seminary in Brooklyn, where she completed her teacher training. Over the next few years, Leah formed connections with many students, teaching and mentoring eighth and ninth grades, and serving as a program director for high school extracurricular activities.
“Our home is always open to every Jew,” said Leah, “here to serve you with classes, events, Shabbat and holiday meals and services, youth programs, women's circle, and so much more.”
For more information on Chabad of Shelton-Monroe, visit jewishshelton.com