From Ronald McDonald House to Chabad House

Fargo’s Jewish community is moving into a new home, one that couldn’t be more tailor-made for their exact needs. And until now, it was a Ronald McDonald House.

“As soon as we saw it, we knew it was perfect,” said Rabbi Yonah Grossman, who co-directs Chabad of North Dakota with his wife Esti. “It’s got everything we need to help the North Dakota Jewish community feel more connected to their Judaism.”

From top to bottom, the building is perfectly set up for use as a center for Chabad of North Dakota. Unlike many other Chabad branches, which serve a community located within walking distance, Chabad of North Dakota serves Jews who live in cities scattered throughout the vast state. For guests who often drive three or four hours from their hometowns, the basement hospitality suites — complete with a private entrance and en suite bathrooms — will make joining the community for Shabbos and yom tov accessible and affordable.”

“Having a Chabad House in such a nice location is wonderful for the Jewish community of Fargo and the surrounding area,” said Chaya from Fargo. “I’m excited that the Chabad House will have guest accommodations, and I’ll be able to stay there for Shabbos!”

The main floor of the building is packed with features that will be of tremendous benefit to the burgeoning Fargo Jewish community. There will be a shul, a classroom, and a library on the main floor of social spaces. The building is equipped with a kitchen of commercial size but residential feel that Esti Grossman says will be perfect for community challah bakes and Shabbos and yom tov hospitality. Incredibly, the kitchen comes with two of each appliance, from ovens to microwaves, in two separate sides. “It’s as if it was custom-built for a Jewish home,” Esti said.

People of all ages and abilities will be welcome at the center, as it is fully handicap-accessible and contains a children’s’ playroom, a lounge perfect for young adults, and a classroom that will be used for Hebrew school and adult education. 

“At Chabad of North Dakota, we pride ourselves on making sure everyone feels welcome,” said Rabbi Yonah. “This building has so much to offer to everyone who comes through the door!”

The building was used as a Ronald McDonald House, hosting families whose children were hospitalized in the nearby Sanford Children’s Hospital. It has been kept in excellent condition and is move-in ready. With the Ronald McDonald House moving to a new location, the building — which is situated on a double lot in the center of town — became available at a very affordable price.  “This new building is large, and will open up opportunities for us to gather and grow,” Chaya explained. 

Led by the Grossmans, who have helmed Chabad of North Dakota since 2012, the state’s small but proud Jewish community has experienced a renaissance. “Chabad of North Dakota has helped me reconnect to my roots,” said John Engert from Fargo. Describing his relationship with the Grossman’s, David Tselnik, a longtime Fargo resident said, “I became a part of their lives. That helps me because I live alone. I don’t have any relatives here. I am a Jew and that helps me to feel among Jews.” 

With a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand, Chabad of North Dakota has launched a fundraising campaign to underwrite the down payment and improvements to the building. 

Generous donors will match up to $100,000 in contributions, which are tax-deductible.

And when the planned improvements are completed, the building will host something North Dakota has not seen in many years: a kosher mikva. While records exist of a mikva that was built in 1912, and others built by Jewish homesteaders yet earlier, they are long gone, leaving Jewish women to make the four-hour drive to the Twin Cities in neighboring Minnesota to fulfill this sacred mitzvah. With the acquisition of the new Chabad center and the building of the new mikva, another link in North Dakota’s long Jewish history will be forged.

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