More than 200 people from East Cobb, Dunwoody, Toco Hills and Brookhaven gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the Chabad Israeli Center Atlanta and the dedication of its Sephardic Torah in memory of Reuven Manoah of the Crown Holding Group on Sunday, Dec. 3.
Families and individuals filled the Congregation Beit Reuven sanctuary, schmoozed and noshed on light appetizers while Rabbi Mendy Gurary auctioned off the final letters needed to complete the Torah.
After initially holding services at Congregation Beth Tefillah and relocating from a location in Sandy Springs, the center opened the doors of its Brookhaven facility on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road in January 2016.
The Dec. 3 ceremony marked the center’s grand opening after more than a year of renovations. The Beit Reuven sanctuary and the Torah were purchased with donations from the Manoah family to memorialize their father, who died two years ago.
“As Jews, we strive to keep our traditions, and part of that includes giving back to the community and hopefully preserving the future of Judaism,” Moshe Manoah said.
The center, on Brookhaven property purchased Dec. 7, 2015, strives to help Israelis maintain a connection to their language, culture and heritage while living abroad.
Chabad hopes to grow the center in the next few years and reach more of the estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Israelis in metro Atlanta to provide them with programs that will remind them of Israel.
Israeli music played in the background while Israeli congregants and visitors took turns helping the sofer (scribe) complete the Torah.
“When we write and receive a sefer Torah, it’s very special because we are all performing a mitzvah as a community,” Assistant Rabbi Alexander Piekarski said. “This brings unity among Jewish people and this specific community.”
The last letter of the Torah was assigned to Rabbi Gurary before the Manoah family ushered it outside for a procession down Chamblee-Dunwoody Road and back.
“This is an exciting day for us, and we are grateful to have the Israeli community with us, which encompasses thousands of people in Atlanta,” Rabbi Gurary said. “It’s not an easy feat to establish a synagogue in the 10 years we’ve been here, but, thank G-d, the community and the Manoah family helped make it possible.”