Chabad Highland Lakes Breaks Ground for $12 Million Center

Chabad Chayil in Highland Lakes, FL led by Rabbi Moishe and Layah Kievman has celebrated the groundbreaking on a new 37,737 square foot, five-story building that will cost $12 million.

This past Sunday marked the groundbreaking for Chabad’s new education center. Located in the North Miami-Dade neighborhood of Highland Lakes, Chabad Chayil has broken ground on a new five-story building that is estimated to cost $12 million, with construction costing close to $9 million. 

Chabad Chayil was founded as the local Chabad Center in the 1980’s by the late Rabbi Dovid Bryn who passed away in 2002. Brought to Miami by Rabbi Bryn to replace him during his illness, Rabbi Moishe Kievman and his wife Layah have run the center ever since, and expanded its services.

Daily prayer services, as well as an array of classes, weekly Shabbat & Holiday dinners & Kiddush lunch and an array of community programs, are still held in a small synagogue and are available for men, women and youth of all ages. But the primary focus of this Jewish center is CHAP, Chabad Chayil’s uniquely designed Community Hebrew Afterschool Program – an all-encompassing daily after-school program geared towards Jewish children in public schools who have no formal Jewish education.

The new center has been designed to serve thousands of students. It measures 37,737 square feet of indoor space and approximately 10,000 square feet of outdoor terraces including a rooftop park. The design includes 14 regular classrooms and 2 specialty classrooms, an indoor playground, jungle gym, social hall, a children’s library and a library for adults, which will double over as a synagogue.

Strategically located at the Northern border of Miami-Dade and close to the Southern edge of Broward, Chabad Chayil is centrally located between 9 major public schools. CHAP curriculum Includes: Traditions, Holidays, Jewish History, Parsha, Jewish Art, Prayer & Judaic study with a primary focus on Hebrew Reading custom designed to teach each child at whichever level they may be. The program offers a first taste of Jewish learning in a creative, joyful, hands-on and interesting way. “We try to impart a sense of tradition using modern and innovative teaching techniques” says Mrs Layah Kievman who directs the program. This is a Hebrew School of the highest quality that kids can’t wait to go to!

During its construction phase, Chabad Chayil’s synagogue and classrooms have been relocated to a number of small homes that are adjacent to the location where the new building will be located. Children ranging in age from 5 to 18 are taught the importance of being kind to one another, and how each and every person can bring good and light into the world.

Arts and craft is incorporated into the daily assignments, and the children especially love working on holiday-related creations. This year each child created their own unique menorah creation which were displayed at Chabad Chayil’s 18th annual Chanukah Fair.

Combining the Groundbreaking with The Chanukah Fair made for a festive atmosphere. Thousands of children attended and had a great time playing in the bounce house, obstacle course, laser tag, and having their faces painted. Smashing pinatas for kosher candy was a big hit. A delicious BBQ was available for lunch or dinner, and for dessert, both children and adults loved the assorted array of donuts that were served (donuts are traditionally served on Chanukah).

The Kievman family crowded onto the stage for the lighting of the menorah, singing the holiday blessings for the entire crowd.

“This center has touched the lives of so many adults and children over the past 40 years” says Rabbi Kievman, “we are very excited by our expansion which allows us to reach even more people.”

The adults were inspired by speeches from local political leaders that included Aventura Mayor Enid Weisman, State Rep. Christopher Benjamin, school board member Lucia Baez-Geller, Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman and others.

Rabbi Avraham Korf who heads Chabad’s operations in the entire State of Florida was in attendance to wish a mazal tov (congratulations) to the community. Korf was sent to Florida over 60 years ago and is one of The Rebbe’s first emissaries. 

It was a tremendous honor to have Rabbi Korf in attendance, and a special treat to hear Korf’s stories from the old country. He knew Kievman’s great-grandfather since he was only a small child in Russia. Kievman’s great-grandfather officiated at Korf’s older brother’s Bar Mitzvah, in Samarkand, a city in Uzbekistan. Rabbi Korf spoke of Chasidic dynasty leaders, “The Rebbe Rashab said it was worth establishing the entire Lubavitch Yeshiva just for Reb Dovid Hordoker (Kievman).” 

“It was worth me being sent to Florida, just to see the tremendous work done by Kievman’s great grandson at Chabad Chayil” Rabbi Korf said with emotion. 

Please visit ChabadChayil.org/BuildNow to have a part in this tremendous undertaking or to learn more about its’ programs. Rabbi Kievman can be reached at (305) 770-1919.

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