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January 8, 2014

Medford Chabad gets permanent home with Main Street purchase

By DAVID PORTNOE Voice editor
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Chabad in Medford President Barry Tuman (left) and Codirectors Rabbi Yitzchok and Baily Kahan in front of Chabad in Medford’s recently purchased building on Main Street in Medford. An affiliate of Chabad of Camden & Burlington Counties, the Medford Chabad is already planning an expansion on the property. Since its inception 10 years ago, Chabad in Medford has used the home of its directors, Rabbi Yitzchok and Baily Kahan, for services, classes and programs. When needed, space for larger gatherings was rented at various locations. With the purchase and refurbishment of an historic home at 74 South Main Street, the Medford Chabad is embarking on a new era, with a permanent location serving Jews in Medford and surrounding areas of Burlington County. The new home of Chabad in Medford will include offices, a large room for events and services, a library and learning center, and a youth room to provide programs for children of all ages.

Barry Tuman, president of Chabad in Medford and a Shamong resident, has been involved for the past 10 years, ever since Rabbi Mendel Mangel, director of Chabad in Camden & Burlington Counties, brought Yitzchok and Baily Kahan to the area to serve Medford and the surrounding community. The Medford Chabad continues to be an affiliate of Chabad of Camden & Burlington Counties.

Tuman recalled the early days in Medford when a handful of people would show up for events. Today, weekly services often bring out 25 people. An annual Community Seder attracts 100 participants. In addition, there are holiday celebrations and many ongoing classes and programs.

Baily Kahan said that Chabad in Medford offers classes almost every day. “Over the years, things have been developing and growing,” she said.

Tuman said that the Medford Chabad has been waiting for the right moment, when there was a critical mass of participants, before purchas- ing a building. He added that Medford, not an historically Jewish town, has been extraordinarily welcoming and helpful when Chabad needed to use the Middle School, Medford Community Center, or Masonic lodge, but that growth meant that a permanent home was needed. He added that the recently conducted Jewish Federation POP Study and Needs Assessment indicated the potential for growth in Burlington County.

Rabbi Kahan said that Medford and the surrounding area have many underserved Jews of all ages who he hopes will find a home at Chabad. He said that Chabad in Medford would make sure to maintain its warm, non-judgmental atmosphere where all Jews are welcome.

Rabbi Kahan credited Rabbi Mangel’s vision in expanding beyond Camden County over 10 years ago. He said that it was Rabbi Mangel who wanted him and Baily to live in Medford in order to better serve the area and its Jewish community.

Tuman said that the historic Dutch Colonial home and the property it sits on would allow Medford Chabad to expand. He said that the Chabad leadership searched for over a year-and-ahalf for the right location. “Interest has already picked up since we made the purchase. I think we will see people take advantage of it,” he said. Tuman added that some activities have already taken place in the building. A formal ribbon-cutting has not yet been scheduled. The purchase was funded by private donations, including several lead benefactors. Fundraising is ongoing. .