Religion

How to help Coast Jewish congregation upgrade from rabbi’s garage

This building at 2030 Pass Road in Biloxi is the future home of Chabad Lubavitch of Southern Mississippi.
This building at 2030 Pass Road in Biloxi is the future home of Chabad Lubavitch of Southern Mississippi. tmsmith@sunherald.com

After three years, Chabad Lubavitch of Southern Mississippi is close to having an official home.

Rabbi Akiva Hall said the Jewish congregation has been meeting in a converted garage at his home. Now they are finalizing details on a suite at 2030 Pass Road in Biloxi as their permanent location, which will be known as the Chabad Jewish Center.

“We’re renting long term, five years, God willing,” said Hall, who is co-director of Chabad Lubavitch. “We’re working on the inside and outside — painting, power washing the outside, constructing classrooms inside.”

They’re also adding office space and a kitchen, as well as reserving a large open space for services in the 2,000-square-foot suite. That space’s seating capacity will be 100, he said. About 20 to 30 people attend most weekly services, but for special holidays, that number increases.

“Currently, about 40 to 50 families are involved in some way, through Hebrew school, services or finding another niche that’s right for them,” Hall said.

They still have the rest of the refurbishing to go, which includes floors, lighting, exterior painting and power washing. A donor has provided $15,000, but the congregation still needs at least $10,000 to complete the work, Hall said.

To raise the money, Chabad Lubavitch will hold a 48-hour online campaign starting Feb. 9.

“Starting Feb. 9, people can go to our page, jewishmississippi.com, and they can donate through a link on the page,” he said.

Hall hopes the congregation will be in the building before Purim, which is March 11.

“Chabad-Lubavitch is a philosophy, a movement, and an organization. It is considered to be the most dynamic force in Jewish life today,” according to the Chabad’s website. “The movement’s system of Jewish philosophy, teaches understanding and recognition of the Creator, the role and purpose of creation, and the importance and unique mission of each creature. This philosophy guides a person to refine and govern his or her every act and feeling through wisdom, comprehension and knowledge. Chabad-Lubavitch is commited to strengthening traditional Judaism, while being welcoming and available to every Jew, regardless of background, knowledge, or level of observance.”

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