By Georgette Gilmore / Baristanet In The Towns
Rabbi Yaacov and his wife Ita Leaf, along with their two children, are hoping to establish a Chabad presence in Montclair to serve the needs of the local and surrounding Jewish community.
Chabad, a global movement with over 3,000 branches in 65 countries, is a Hasidic movement that adheres to the Orthodox practice of Judaism. According to Rabbi Yaacov, “Chabad advances the goal that every Jew have the opportunity for Jewish discovery within a context of open-minded exploration, regardless of background or affiliation.”
Yaacov, who was born in Israel and raised in Detroit, MI, and Ita, who grew up in West Orange where her parents — Rabbi Boruch and Devorah Klar — have served as the directors of Chabad of Essex County since 1980, hope to establish “a place where Judaism will be celebrated with joy and meaning, adding depth and perspective to daily life. With opportunities to expand the mind, excite the heart and touch the soul, they plan to offer a wide range of learning programs for all ages.” They name the Lubavitcher Rebbe, whose message was to bring the joy and relevance of Judaism to the world in an open-minded and non-judgmental way, as their inspiration.
The Leafs moved to Montclair in July, from Brooklyn.
“The charm and diversity of the town is really what attracted us to Montclair, coupled with the fact that Montclair as a town seems to have it all, with the exception of a Chabad,” says Yacoov. He believes there is a sizable and growing Jewish population in Montclair, as well as a growing Jewish student body at Montclair State University. With their Chabad, they plan on servicing the local Jewish community and contributing to the already present Jewish infrastructure.
For now, The Leafs will be renting spaces for some of the programs and activities, as well as using their home for Shabbat dinners and some classes. The first event will be High-Holiday services.