Since 1998, when Rabbi Hirshy and Rashi Minkowicz set up camp on Jones Bridge Road, the Jewish community of North Fulton gathered in trailers for Jewish education, worship, programs and simchas.
“When Rashi passed away, the community came together, led by a push from our oldest son Mendel, 14 years old at the time, and decided it was time to build a permanent home for Chabad where her legacy and work could continue for generations to come,” Rabbi Minkowicz said.
“It’s been 10 years from inception to today,” said Ari Kahn, the architect of the project. “The vision that was given to me was done by Rashi, of blessed memory. She’s the one who essentially told me what she wanted to see in the building.”
On Sunday, 800 attendees toured the 23,000-square-foot campus that includes a luxurious mikvah, swimming pool and splash pad, locker rooms and a sports field. The new synagogue has a main sanctuary, weekday chapel, social hall, classrooms and two fully equipped kitchens.
The new facilities enable more programming and classes, as well as the re-opening of the preschool. “It’s a dream come true to have a preschool in our beautiful facility. I can’t wait to welcome new students to explore, learn, play and share with them and their families what makes our community so special: joy, warmth, kindness and a sense of belonging,” said preschool director Jeannette Sinasohn.
Anthony Shapiro, the master of ceremonies, introduced a lineup of icons in the national and local Jewish community, including: Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky (Chabad World Headquarters), Rabbi Yossi New (Chabad of Georgia), Mike Bodker (mayor of Johns Creek), Luna Bukiet (former shlucha or emissary of Chabad of North Fulton), Rabbi Gedalya Hertz (partner rabbi of Chabad of North Fulton), and Rabbi Mendel Minkowicz.
“Chabad of North Fulton has had a spiritual home here for many years. It was filled with Torah, a love for Yiddishkeit and a love for a fellow Jew. Today this magnificent beautiful home has a beautiful house to house it in,” Rabbi New said. “On behalf of the 20 shluchim families here in the state of Georgia, I want to extend a hearty mazal tov to Rabbi Hirshy, his children, Rabbi and Mrs. Hertz and the Chabad of North Fulton community for the newest, and may I dare say, most beautiful Chabad house in Georgia.”
Mayor Bodker said, “We all have a special relationship with the rabbi. The way the world is today, boy do people need to understand what’s happening here and what the mission of Chabad is all about.”
Nearly two years ago, Rabbi and Ruti Hertz moved to North Fulton to partner with Rabbi Minkowicz and the Chabad community. “Standing here today, which happens to be just a few days shy of our second-year anniversary of moving to Chabad of North Fulton, I would like to express thanks and appreciation for being a part of this community,” Rabbi Hertz said.
“It’s not about the four walls, although we are extremely grateful for our magnificent four walls, it’s about what goes on inside,” Rabbi Hirshy said. I encourage you to show our collective gratitude by turning this building into a house that any Jew from any walk of life feels welcome in,” Rabbi Hirshy announced. He then introduced his son, Mendel who sang his newly released song “I Believe.”
The event continued with a procession and march to the front doors of the building, a brief speech by the children of Rabbi Hirshy and Rashi, a ribbon cutting ceremony, the hanging of the main mezuzah and a lavish lunch and celebration.