After eight years as nomads, the local Hasidic Jewish community will have a worship space of their own.
A West Ninth Street building in Frederick will serve as the place for services, classes and events for Chabad Lubavitch of Frederick. Chabad Lubavitch of Frederick, formed in 2009, is the only local group associated with the ultra-Orthodox movement in Judaism.
The Frederick Chabad bought the building from Unity in Frederick, a local church associated with Unity Ministries Worldwide. The sale was finalized Wednesday, according to Rabbi Boruch Labkowski, the founder and leader of Chabad of Frederick.
Unity in Frederick on Monday opened in its new, rented location on Pegasus Court near Westview. The Rev. Toni Fish, leader of Unity in Frederick, said its new space, nearly double in size, lets the church expand its offerings of “nontraditional activities” such as yoga and weddings.
The sale also offers growth opportunities for Chabad of Frederick.
A designated, central space was part of Labkowski’s vision when he brought the Chabad movement to Frederick in 2009, he said in an interview Monday.
As a fledgling organization, the Chabad drew just a handful of participants to its initial gatherings, Labkowski recalled. His Frederick home served as the venue for those one-on-one and small group teaching sessions, he said.
As the local group grew, so did its desire for a shul, or place of worship and study.
The Chabad does not have formal members or congregants. The Orthodox movement, which is rooted in Hasidism, describes itself as an all-inclusive organization open to Jews of all faiths and backgrounds.
Its mission, according to Labkowski, is to ensure Jewish history and traditions continue, and to promote unity among Jews of different sects.
Over the years, Chabad has rented a variety of venues to house participants in these large events and services: the Clarion Inn Frederick Event Center (formerly the FSK Holiday Inn), North Frederick Elementary School and most recently, the Walkersville Volunteer Rescue Co. Hall, where the organization held its “Purim in Paris” celebration in March.
Labkowski pointed to attendance at the organization’s High Holy Day services as evidence of growth. The most recent holy days’ services drew about 125 people, compared with the 40-person crowd in the first year, Labkowski said.
He estimated the Frederick Chabad served several hundred families, based on attendance at events and services in the year’s time.
He expected the new shul to boost awareness and participation in Chabad services and events. And the organization, in turn, will likely expand its outreach and programming as a result of having the designated space.
“It’s the beginning of a new era,” Labkowski said.
The central location, just north of downtown Frederick, was another benefit. The organization already had the money to cover the $335,000 sale price, the result of a yearlong fundraising campaign, Labkowski said.
Rabbi Jordan Hersh, leader of Beth Sholom Congregation, also hailed the Chabad’s new building as a success for the entire Jewish community of Frederick. Although their organizations represent different movements within Judaism — Beth Sholom is a Conservative Jewish synagogue while Chabad is ultra-Orthodox — their mission is the same. There is also Congregation Kol Ami of Frederick, which is a Reform synagogue in Frederick.
“At the end of the day, all three of us ... want to help Jewish residents in our area to live meaningful and fulfilling lives,” Hersh said.
The Chabad will open the doors to its new location in a few days. A course that begins May 10 about the history of Israel and the Six-Day War is the first event scheduled for the space.