The Intown Chabad: Yiddishkeit for young adults
Photo: Kathe Tran 
The Intown Chabad hosted Shabbat 500 at Griggs Park in Uptown Dallas May 10, 2024. Daniel Precker reflected on serving in the Israel Defense Forces since Oct. 7, 2023.

By Deb Silverthorn

The Intown Chabad is bustling with activity. Monthly First Friday Shabbat Soulful Services and Dinners  attract more than 200 guests.  Weekly learning, praying and socializing engagements and a mission trip to Israel which returns this week, are among the programming highlights.

Next month, The Intown Chabad will host its annual White Party, themed “We Will Dance Again,” from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday, July 20, at The Henry’s Rooftop bar, 2301 North Akard St. DJ and Nova Festival survivor Avi Medina will headline.

Interest in an Uptown location for Chabad first surfaced in 2006. Aidy and Rabbi Zvi Drizin, with their then very young children Chana and Yosef, decided to establish a vibrant Jewish presence in the Uptown area while also serving the larger Park Cities, Downtown and Lakewood.

In 2007, the Uptown area hosted its first public menorah lighting with more than 350 people. In December 2023, more than 300 attended The Intown Chabad’s Drinks & Dreidels night and nearly 800 showed up for the Kyle Warren Park Hanukkah celebration.

In 2008 at the first Intown Chabad base, a 1000-square-foot home on Routh Street, Rabbi Drizin told the TJP that “this is often the first time our young Jewish people are living on their own and when they’re determining ‘How do I want to live as a Jew?’ we want to be here to guide, to share and to celebrate.”

Today, with two properties on Worthington Street in Uptown and nearly five times their original space, the spirit of The Intown Chabad has grown.

“Ours was the first such Chabad program. There are now more than 150 who’ve followed us around the world. It’s a hyper-niche audience because their futures as individuals and as Jews — the future of our people — is at stake,” said Drizin recently, with Aidy by his side. In 2015, Mooka and Rabbi Baruch Hecht joined the team; in 2022, Mushka and Rabbi Mendy Plotkin were also added. In July, the Hechts will transition to Park Cities Chabad, which will open in July.

“Who will our young people marry, what will their commitment to Jewish life be?” Rabbi Drizin said. “These are questions that have always been vital but, since last Oct. 7, we’re realizing we can’t take Judaism for granted. With more than double the number of young people attending many of our programs over the last nearly nine months, what we offer is more important than ever.”

Mushka Plotkin is from Connecticut and Rabbi Mendy is from Toronto, Canada. They were raised by Chabad shluchim, emissaries, from whom they learned to share the joy and love of Judaism.

“The Drizins and the Hechts have built an amazing, vibrant and powerful community that we are so honored to now lead and continue their inspiration and vision,” said Rabbi Plotkin. “Everything we do is to instill the pride and joy of being young Jews and helping those who join us along their own path to a strong Jewish identity.”

The Intown Chabad has welcomed thousands of millennials and Gen-Zers to programs and events — formal gatherings and more casual — through which the light of Jewish tradition and bonding is bright.

Photo: Deb Silverthorn
Rabbi Zvi Drizin is shown here in September 2008 at the organization’s first space on Routh Street in Dallas. He and his wife, Aidy, founded The Intown Chabad in 2008.

“Our community is about growing, learning and sharing,” said Mushka Plotkin, “and the Dallas community of young people joining us in all of that is so special.”

On May 10, The Intown Chabad hosted Shabbat 500 at Griggs Park, an evening in the spirit of Jewish unity and Jewish pride with hundreds of young people standing strong for Am Yisrael Chai. Former Dallasite Daniel Precker spoke about how important unconditional support is for Israel. He shared his experiences when, after Oct. 7, he went to Israel, where he’d previously served in the Israel Defense Forces, to reunite with his reservist unit.

More than 40 couples who met at The Intown Chabad have had their weddings under the chuppah. For Drizin, walking the campuses of Dallas’ day schools and other Jewish preschools brings a sense of pride.

Chelsea Sinclair went to J.J. Pearce High School; Austin Litoff, to Akiba Yavneh Academy. They grew up at different synagogues, but a pre-Purim Shabbat dinner at The Intown Chabad brought them together in 2011. The couple married six years later with Rabbi Drizin sharing in the officiating of the simcha.

“We had been in the same or close spaces so many times throughout life but couldn’t ever remember meeting until we were at The Intown Chabad, which then hosted our aufruf the Shabbos before our wedding and with whom we’ve shared Mommy & Me classes,” said Austin Litoff. They have two sons, Archer and Marshall, who are following in their father’s footsteps as AYA students.

“The Rebbe, of blessed memory, would often quote the Chassidic saying ‘If you know aleph, teach aleph. Every person can teach and influence their surroundings with spirituality, regardless of how little he or she may know,’” Austin Litoff added. “The Intown Chabad and its leadership shares with anyone who comes through their doors, at whatever step they are along the way, to connect to and enhance one’s Jewish identity.”

“When I walk through the halls of almost every Jewish school in town, I see the kinderlach of people with whom we’ve somehow connected,” Rabbi Drizin says. “It’s a beautiful thing to know we were in whatever way a part of linking the next generation of Jews.”

For The Intown Chabad’s program details and registration for the White Party and other events, visit theintownchabad.com.

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