By Michelle Colesanti
The Jewish Discovery Center, a local affiliate of Chabad-Lubavitch, offers a wide arrangement of services and classes for singles, families and seniors. There are currently over 4,000 Chabad-based Discovery Centers worldwide.
Rabbi Mendel Rubashkin arrived with wife Tzippi to the Brandon area in 2004. Growing up in the concrete jungle of Brooklyn, they now enjoy the space that living here affords them. With six children from under age one to 10, they appreciate the space.
Both he and his wife co-direct the Discovery Center. “We knew from early on that this is what we wanted to do.”
The goal of the Jewish Discovery Center is to create a variety of enjoyable and meaningful Jewish experiences through programs and events. The Jewish Discovery Lab currently meets each week on Wednesday evenings from 7:30-8:30 p.m. discussing a different topic in an intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking way. A class may be tried for free once with no obligation to sign up.
Junior Chefs offers cooking classes with a Jewish twist. Once a month, a communal Shabbot dinner is held at the Center. There is no cost for the dinner, but donations are appreciated. Offsite programs are available at places such as Home Depot where they recently had a menorah building workshop during Chanukah.
Education is the key to help understand what is behind the Jewish faith, traditions and holidays. Rabbi Rubashkin said, “We are not here to judge. The point is to embrace each individual; to help them learn more about being observant if that is what they choose.”
Although The Jewish Discovery Center is a non-profit organization which exists only through donations, there are no membership fees and no strings attached. The Center affiliates with Chabad-Lubavitch, but no money is received from them. The local Center is financially dependent upon the community it serves.
The Jewish Discovery Center is located in the Bloomingdale Professional Center at 1578 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico. The hours vary depending on the activities and events taking place, but Rabbi Rubashkin is always accessible. For more information, call 571-8100, or visit www.jewishbrandon.com to view classes or sign up for a weekly newsletter.