EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Presenting an opportunity to "live Jewishly" and to embrace tradition with an eye toward the future, Torah Links, a Jewish education center and social hub, opened last week in East Brunswick. Nearly 800 attendees visited the revitalized building which includes classrooms, a social room, offices, and mikvah cleansing facilities. The new rabbis were there, as were the contributors who made the event happen.
Torah Links will provide an opportunity for students to prepare for their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs; learn about the Torah; embrace or re-embrace Judaism; and form new networks and community bonds.
Said Rabbi Dovid Gross, "It is a center for Jewish learning with classrooms and family programs. we are grateful for the support of Middlesex County Jewish philanthropists, especially the Tanzman Family Foundation."
Though he and his colleague Rabbi Shlomo Landau come from an Orthodox background, Gross promised a "very inclusive Jewish community" that welcome "unaffiliated people, too." "We are welcoming anyone who want to learn," he said. "Our outreach goal is to bring any Jewish person access to education."
Donor Martin Silver, a member of the building committee, joined Gross in placing a mezuzah on each door in the building, as a symbol to everyone that this building is constituted as a Jewish domain, operating by a special set of rules, rituals, and beliefs. Said Silver, "We struggled, but the reality is heartwarming. This is our way of contributing to the community."
Mayor Brad Cohen attended the event, congratulating the builders on their sense of "respect for the East Brunswick aesthetic" in keeping the building, formerly McGiness Elementary School, a familiar part of the community. He compared the renovation to that done by St. Mary's Coptic Christian Church of the Weber School on Riva Avenue which was turned into an early childhood education center. "They've done a great job, and the township sends them best wishes for the future."
Assemblywoman Nancy J. Pinkin (D-18) offered a resolution from the New Jersey State Assembly to celebrate the opening. "This dream has been waiting ten years to find and develop the right location, " she said. "It will be a vital community center for education, localization, and community service here in Middlesex County."
"This is a wonderful simcha and our communal accomplishment. It is the fruit of our collective labor." said Dr. Steven Reich, Chairman of the Development Committee, who was the main speaker at the event. "This reaches out to all Jews. Everyone has a home at Torah Links. Without a library, there is no town. similarly, without the Torah, there is no Jewish community."
Of the need to build a better-educated Jewish community, Reich quoted businessman Sy Syms, who said famously, "An educated consumer is our best customer." Reich reinforced that Torah Links will be a "welcoming, nonjudgmental, inclusive, safe environment."
Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year, begins on Wednesday night at sundown.