By Ben Tinsley
SOUTHLAKE — The Chabad Jewish Center of Southlake and its community soon will be moving to a much anticipated new building at 1970 E. Dove Road, said Rabbi Levi Gurevitch.
This development is welcome news to the Mid-Cities Chabad community, which has been operating in three separate locations. Their shul was literally in the backyard of Gurevitch’s home during the pandemic.
“It’s exciting, right?” said Jay Bernstein, a member of Chabad. “We’re thrilled about it. Rabbi and Rishi Gurevitch are the driving force behind this whole thing. We knew it was only a matter of time before they found something that worked.”
Thirteen years ago, the Gurevitches moved to North Texas, dedicating their lives to helping the Jewish community. Their goal was to create a place where everyone belongs — where Jews from all walks of life can come together to learn, grow and celebrate Judaism.
Their road to realizing the dream has encountered obstacles along the way.
During efforts to find a new facility six months ago, Gurevitch nearly secured another property, but that deal fell through. It was a difficult moment for Gurevitch, who sought counsel from his dear father and longtime mentor, Rabbi Chaim Gurevitch, a beloved figure in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.
The elder Gurevitch, never short on wisdom, shared words of clarity and perspective for his son: “You will find something bigger. You will find something even better. You will find something nicer. Stop worrying so much. Just continue doing your holy work.“
While Levi Gurevitch did heed his father’s advice, these would be the final words exchanged between the father and son.
In March, his father was struck and killed by a car while delivering shmura matzo after attending the circumcision of a grandson, Levi Gurevitch’s nephew.
Gurevitch struggled to make sense of the tragedy.
“That very day, I vowed to myself that we would make his words come true and promised we would watch my father’s blessing come to fruition in the near future,” the rabbi wrote in a recent communication with his congregation.
Three weeks later, Rabbi Gurevitch received a phone call.
Two of his family members who had spent Passover together wanted to honor the memory of Chaim Gurevitch. They pledged $1 million of seed money to help secure a building for Levi Gurevitch’s community.
“I was speechless,” the rabbi wrote. “But looking back, I was watching God’s expert hand gently bringing the pieces together.”
Then, the Gurevitches drove by the church building they originally looked at before the pandemic and learned it was once more for sale.
“We knew this was it,” Gurevitch said. “We reached out to the pastor, who agreed to a reasonable price. It will remain a house of worship, of meaning, of spirituality and of lasting impact.”
Even better, the seller was moved by the Gurevitches and their dedication and committed to making a sizable donation, the rabbi said.
The new facility will be used as is for the High Holidays and then undergo renovations as well as an addition.
“The story is not over my friends. It’s just beginning,” the rabbi continued in the message to his community. “Today is the day that as a community, we start planting the seeds that will soon become the strong roots that will ground our Jewish community now and for generations to come.”
The Gurevitches say they owe a huge “thank you” to Rabbi Mendel and Baila Dubrawsky, who first brought Chabad to North Texas with Chabad of Dallas. They are also grateful to Rabbi Dov and Chana Tovah Mandel of Chabad of Fort Worth & Tarrant County, who established Chabad of Arlington, now Chabad of Southlake, 13 years ago.
The Gurevitches, meanwhile, invite the community to partner with them to help bring the facility into shape.
“While the seed money has allowed us to take possession of the building, we have much to do in order to secure our new Chabad home for generations to come,” he said. “We look forward to our partnership in the monumental project of creating a new home in the community.”
The new center is roughly 4,500 square feet and will be superior to three rented facilities Chabad personnel have been using in eastern Tarrant County, Gurevitch said.
“We have one rented place for Hebrew school and adult education and then at another location we have synagogue,” the rabbi said. “At a third location we do larger events. We didn’t have one roof over our heads. … It is so important to have our own space. Something we can call our own.”
Kevin Fradkin, a member of the community, said he first joined the Chabad when it was in Arlington and followed when it moved to Southlake.
Fradkin said the rabbi and his wife had their eyes on this new property for a while.
“They were so happy to get this building — they knew that the extra space there would make it more suitable for the kids,” Fradkin said. “It’s so fortunate that everything worked out. We’ve been going to shul at their home, but they needed a facility for bar mitzvahs, holidays, kids’ education and other activities. … The new building is a really good location.”