At some point almost everyone across the world has been approached by someone from Chabad either to lay tefilin, say prayer, receive Shabbat candles or participate in one of their programs. Chabad of the UES has been very active in creating community and engaging the thousands of Jews on the Upper East Side.
Recently I sat down with Yosef and Devora Wilhelm, co-directors at Chabad Young Professionals UES, to learn exactly how they have been so successful at growing their community.
Why and how was your organization founded?
Our organization was founded 4 years ago, in 2009.
We are a community and a source of Jewish inspiration and education for the Young Jews of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. There are 18,000 young Jews, just on the Upper East Side alone! This demographic is a crucial element of our people, for they are the “Generation of Now”, and ironically, most are not involved in any Jewish life or organizations. We make Judaism and meeting their Jewish peers attractive, fun, and inspirational.
How has it evolved over time?
Over time, thank G-d, there has been a tremendous growth in numbers and involvement. With time, the community members themselves have made the community and the programs that we do a success, through their involvement, input, and leadership. Each year, we add more programming, classes, and events.
What is the main focus today?
Our focus is two-fold and both are very clear and strong.
1. To have a strong Young Jewish community, so that everyone can meet other Jews (for dating, social, business). The Jewish way is all about the community. When you are surrounded by people who are involved and growing in their Judaism, this empowers you.
2. To give every Jew the tools and inspiration to grow in their Judaism, each at their own pace.
Everything we do directly feeds into one or both of these focuses.
How does this work line up with Jewish values?
Our work is %100 all about keeping, educating, and growing in our own and our community’s Jewish Values. The Torah and Mitzvot are our blueprint for everything we do and give over to our community.
.ORG connection: Today, over 3,000 Chabad centers are located in more than 65 countries, with a new center opening on the average every ten days.