Reflecting the remarkable growth of Jewish life in Bergen County, Rabbi Avrohom and Leah Engel are moving from Fair Lawn to Dumont, New Jersey, to establish a new Chabad Jewish Center to serve the growing needs of the Dumont Jewish community.
The Chabad center will be “an address for everything Jewish,” providing services to Jews of all denominations and backgrounds. Hebrew school, Shabbat dinners, holiday programs and community events will all run out of the center.
“We hope to provide every Jew in Dumont with the opportunity to connect with their heritage and with Jewish tradition,” said Rabbi Engel, a native of Montreal, whose rabbinic studies took him to Melbourne, Australia and Brooklyn. He was ordained in the central Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbinical Seminary in Brooklyn. “There was a need to expand and enrich Jewish life in the Dumont community and when we visited we got to know the people here we discovered the warmest, most welcoming community, and we decided to make Dumont our home!”
After spending a few months meeting and introducing themselves to the local residents, the Engels coordinated the first Chanukah menorah lighting celebration in Dumont in many years in December. The event was hosted by the Borough of Dumont and Chabad Dumont. Mayor Andrew LaBruno and many members of the City Council attended and celebrated the joyous holiday with close to 100 members of the community. Mayor LaBruno honored the community with his holiday wishes and lit the menorah’s center candle, bringing light and warmth to the beautiful event. Rabbi Engel sang the traditional blessings and lit the candles for the second night of Chanukah and special Chanukah treats were served, including donuts, hot potato latkes and chocolate coins. “The feedback and response has been incredible,” said Leah Engel. “The feeling of pride in our Jewish heritage, as well the excitement for the future growth of the Jewish community, was shared by all who attended.”
The Engels come to Dumont with a history in Jewish leadership roles and outreach. Rabbi Engel has served as a student rabbi in communities across the world, including Ivano- Frankivsk, Ukraine; Brasov, Romania; and Zagreb, Croatia, where he led Passover seders, holiday programs and Shabbat services. Leah, originally from Rockland County, has served as a teacher in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and has served in communal leadership roles including running Jewish summer camps in Donetsk, Ukraine and Walnut Creek, California. As a talented children’s puppeteer, she has led many mommy-and-me circles and kids programs in schools in Bergen County.
The Engels said that they were inspired by the teachings of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson. In a time when more and more people are searching for meaning and fulfillment in their lives, the Rebbe taught that the Torah is the blueprint for a meaningful life and its relevance to every aspect of life continues in the modern era.
The new center is part of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement—known for its active and all-inclusive approach to Jewish outreach—and seeks to provide services to Jews of all denominations, regardless of affiliation, and specifically those who live in areas where there is little or no Jewish institutional presence. To date, Chabad runs more than 3,500 educational, religious and social service institutions in 100 countries around the globe.
For more information on the Chabad Jewish Center, contact Rabbi Engel at (201) 834-4727 or [email protected], or visit www.jewishdumont.org.
By Jewish Link Staff