By Stacey Dresner
Chabad of Shrewsbury and UMass Medical School has received a matching grant of $100,000 from the Rohr Family Foundation for its new Chabad House on Locust Avenue, which they will close on Aug. 31.
Chabad has begun a capital campaign to raise $500,000 for the new Chabad House and the $100,000 matching grant from the Rohr Foundation, which they learned about two weeks ago, will go a long way toward raising those funds.
“People are excited to have their donations doubled and to see real backing is rewarding to people who gave early on. Getting that $100,000 really fires up the troops,” said Rabbi Shmulik Fogelman, leader of Chabad of Shrewsbury and UMass Medical School. “You are maximizing the impact; your dollar goes really far.”
The new Chabad House will offer a Jewish home away from home for UMass medical students and residents of Shrewsbury. The house’s walkout basement – one big room – will serve as the shul and multi-purpose room, with a wheelchair accessible bathroom, and the house will also feature a student lounge area where students can meet, study and where classes can be held.
In addition, the house will feature bikur cholim suites for Jewish patients of the UMass Medical Center and their families. UMass Medical Center is the home of the Horae Gene Therapy Center, which is currently developing breakthrough gene therapies for rare inherited diseases.
The bikur cholim suite in the new Chabad House will include three bedrooms and a handicapped-accessible bathroom for the families of UMass patients. The kitchen will be stocked with kosher food for the visitors including fresh baked goods; and hot kosher meals will be provided. And all of this is offered to the families for free.
“Especially in the past two years, during Covid, people have had a hard time doing the mitzvah of bikur cholim – visiting people who are sick, because of all of the restrictions and dangers involved,” Rabbi Shmulik said. “Here’s their chance to do this mitzvah in a safe way.”
Rabbi Shmulik and his wife Sarah will be meeting new UMass Medical School students in the next week and are excited to soon be able to offer Jewish students and a new permanent place to come together.
“We are looking forward to meeting the new class of Jewish students,” Rabbi Shmulik said. “It’s a new chapter in the rich history of Yiddishkeit in Central Mass.”