April 22, 2024
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Chabad of Stamford Connects With College Students

The Chabad of Stamford recently started a program that gifts mezuzahs to alumni of its nursery school Gan Yeladim as they begin their first year of college. Gan Yeladim has been helping children develop a love of Judaism from a young age for more than 30 years and the Chabad is thrilled to continue its connection to these graduates.

In June, Chabad distributed challahs to students graduating from all levels of education through their Loaves of Love program, including recent high school alumni. This program served as the inspiration for Leah Shemtov, the Stamford Chabad shlucha, to create an initiative that would target incoming college freshmen.

In a conversation with The Jewish Link, Shemtov shared her motivation for focusing on this group of students: “They’re the ones that are leaving home for the first time and coming to a whole new environment … and it’s really tough Jewishly on college campuses.”

To facilitate deeper connections with Chabad and other Jewish organizations on campus for these budding adults, the Chabad of Stamford proactively reached out to the Chabad at each of the student’s colleges. They used social media to communicate its mission and coordinate logistics with the graduates to provide them with mezuzah scrolls. The Chabad’s primary aim in these endeavors was to ensure the young adults would remain connected to their Jewish heritage.

According to Shemtov, the community responded positively and warmly to this initiative. “When people saw that [the Chabad of Stamford] had offered this, people started to volunteer, people wanted to sponsor these mezuzahs and be part of the effort, so it became a really beautiful community-wide effort on multiple fronts.”

Shemtov explained that she viewed the mezuzah as a conduit of connection and protection of the young students and their Judaism in an era where one “would think that going onto a college campus, maybe it’s a place where [one has] to hide [their] Jewishness and not have it there.” Thus, posting a mezuzah on their dorm door would signify their lack of fear and pride in displaying their Jewish identity.”

In light of the Oct. 7 terrorist attack, Shemtov feels that the initiative has heightened importance. She expressed that “having that extra dose of Jewish pride and Jewish strength is really important and really needed and gives them an opportunity to connect now, even more, because they had that connection before they left.”


Raffaella Rascoff, a high school junior at Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy in Stamford, is interested in psychology, social justice and human development. She enjoys reading, writing, baking and spending time with dogs in her free time.

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