A crowd of 250 men, women and children packed Chabad of Clearwater’s beautiful new center for a memorable and historic opening. Greetings were sent by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Senator Rick Scott.
On Sunday, 10 Elul, Chabad of Clearwater, Florida hosted its biggest Hakhel gathering of the year, in the form of the grand opening of the Tabacinic Chabad Center and Feldman Family Shul.
After months of extensive renovations from top to bottom in the former Bank of America property, a crowd of 250 men, women and children packed the beautiful new center for a memorable and historic celebration that got underway with the recitation of the Rebbe’s Kapitel. Avi Ovaknin of Hollywood, Florida, President of Surf Style and a staunch supporter of Chabad was honored to lead the Kapitel.
He was followed by the blowing of the Shofar by Rabbi Shimon Sabol, longtime Chazzan and Baal Toikaya at Chabad of Clearwater, and a Dvar Torah was then shared by Sarah Hodakov, daughter of the Shluchim.
Mr. Daniel Sragowicz, son-in-law of Moshe and Lillian Tabacinic, who are the lead donors of the project, represented the family and shared words of greetings. He told the crowd that partnering with Chabad is the best possible investment.
A special proclamation from the City of Clearwater was presented and read by Kathleen Beckman of the City Council.
A letter from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was read by Dr. Marc Grossman and a short video message from Senator Rick Scott was shown on the big screen.
Afterwards, Robert Kasmer, City of Clearwater Real Estate Coordinator, and Marcus Williamson, Public Works Department Director, made a “Surprise Historic Presentation”. They presented a replica of the new street sign adjacent to Chabad that was officially renamed Chabad Drive. The crowd was really excited with the announcement and it received the loudest round of applause of the day. The new sign was installed on Monday morning, 11 Elul.
Rabbi Chaim Mentz from Bel Air, CA was the guest speaker. Mentz complimented the Jewish community on this great achievement and encouraged them to step up to the plate and support Chabad of Clearwater. He reminded them that in every community, Jewish people hear about how their grandparents donated money to build the Synagogue, and how their parents grew up ensuring that this synagogue lived on for their children and grandchildren. Today, addressing the assembled, “You are all the grandparents of this new Jewish center and you are the parents that are going to continue donating because Chabad of Clearwater is needed for your children and your future grandchildren” Mentz said.
The final speaker of the program was the Shliach, Levi Hodakov. He started by saying “today is a big Mazal Tov day,” and then shared that the Gematria of 10 Elul is 77 which is the same as the word Mazal, and for the “Tov” he and his wife are currently celebrating 17 years on Shlichus!
After the Shliach’s speech, there were “Donor Appreciation Presentations”. Custom-made Tzedaka Pushkas from The Gary Rosenthal Collection were given to Baale Batim who made significant donations to the building campaign.
The next part of the event was the ceremonial “Ribbon Cutting” with the local lead donors Marvin & Linda Feldman, Mr. Daniel Sragowicz and the Shluchim, after which Mr. Marvin Feldman installed a Mezuza on the main entrance.
After that, the beautiful donor wall designed by world-renowned artist Michoel Muchnik was “revealed” and refreshments and L’chaims were served while the crowd enjoyed live music.
Two plaques stood out on the donor wall. One with the inscription: “Anash & Shluchim from around the world”, which according to the Shliach was in recognition of their steadfast support of Chabad of Clearwater throughout the years. The second, with the following inscription: Dedicated in honor of Rabbi & Mrs. Moshe Kotlarsky For their longstanding friendship and support of Chabad of Clearwater.
A Minyan for Mincha was held at the end of the program and many men put on Tefillin as well.
The nearly 50 children in attendance were treated to a special show by the Magician, a moon bounce and goodie bags.
“It was BH truly a day to remember and everyone left on a high,” Rabbi Hodakov said.
The feedback was fast in coming.
Here’s just one email that came into Chabad on Monday.
Subject: What an extraordinary day!
“Good Morning Rabbi,
I was so thrilled to be part of this joyous occasion. The generosity and support of the community to ensure that our Jewish people survive is truly a blessing for us.
We must all do what we can and the outpouring of love was so beautiful to see and be part of!
It was an unforgettable event and all of your efforts to pay attention to every detail showed.
Praying for your strength and health so you can continue this mission.
All good wishes to you and your family for a Sweet New Year!