The sound of a shofar kicked off the party Sunday afternoon, Aug. 30, to celebrate the opening of the Chabad house at Georgia Tech. Blowing the shofar was Rabbi Shlomo Sharfstein, who hosted the lively event and runs the center with his wife, Shifra.
“This is a momentous, exciting occasion for all of us,” Rabbi Sharfstein said. “Chabad is going to become a driving force on campus, an advocate for Jewish life. We are marking the beginning of new and uncontrollable growth.”
It wasn’t always so. Philip Cuba, who attended Georgia Tech in the late 1960s, said Jewish students had nowhere to congregate on campus at the time. “Even when my son-in-law went here 15 years ago, there was nothing. Although we had a Jewish fraternity, we had nothing to guide us on our spiritual journey. Now, in just four short years, what the rabbi and Shifra have been able to do is truly incredible. That they have chosen to dedicate their lives to this is a blessing to all of us.”
Venezuelan student Anat Revai was reluctant to apply to Georgia Tech after a family friend told her there was little activity for Jews at the Midtown institute, but she gave it a try anyway. “I still don’t know why, but it was the right choice,” she said. “The same year I came, the rabbi started a Jewish house.”
Looking around the new digs, Revai said: “I couldn’t be happier. So many people are here!”
The new house, which also serves Georgia State, replaces a smaller center nearby that was operated by the Sharfsteins until recently.
“Once the Sharfsteins came, the whole campus changed,” Tech graduate Stefanie Pous said. “My whole experience changed. It turned from being a big, uninviting school into something totally relatable that I felt at home with. I definitely gained a sense of belonging.”
Rabbi Menachem Schmidt, the president of Chabad on Campus International, told the guests to “remember the task at hand: We should all work together to make this a great success and make the world a better place, each of us in our own way.”
Gallery: GT Chabad House