Placer County getting its first Jewish community center

By: Brad Smith Gold Country News Service
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For Rabbi Yossi Korik, the reality of Placer County’s first Chabad house took a step forward during the April 11 groundbreaking ceremony at 4410 Douglas Blvd. Despite the torrential rain outside, the rabbi refused to let anything dampen his spirits. “This is a great day for everyone,” Korik said. “What started as a dream a few years ago is now taking form, something that we’ll be able to see and touch – something tangible and special.” When completed, the Shapiro Chabad Jewish Community Center will be a hub of activities for Placer County’s Jewish population. “This will be a place of worship and learning,” Korik said. “But it will also be a place of community and celebration. A place for all Jews – that’s the important part.” Korik mingled with members of his congregation and guests, such as Rabbis Yossi Grossbaum and Mendy Cohen, County Supervisor Kirk Uhler, Rocklin Mayor Scott Yuill and his wife Tami, Lincoln Mayor Tom Cosgrove and his wife Karen, and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). Korik told the audience the process of building the Chabad had been an incredible time for him and his family. Korik and his wife Malkie left their native New York five years ago, coming out to Placer County as emissaries of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement – a way to reach out to all Jews. “Chabad recognizes no differences between Jews,” Korik said. “The goal is to serve both spiritual and physical needs of each Jew regardless of affiliation, no matter where he or she is, with understanding and with love.” While the Koriks found active Jewish communities in surrounding communities, there was very little for the Placer County Jews. “We found a good number of Jews in the area,” Korik said. “Next, we started a Chabad out of our own home and from there we built a foundation.” A Chabad house is much more than a synagogue, Korik said. “It’s a place where we can have a library and anyone wanting to learn Hebrew or have Torah classes – they can come here,” he said. “A kitchen where traditional kosher meals can be made. A place where people come for help or healing, for all ages.” True to his role as an emissary, Korik reached out to many in Placer’s Jewish community, practicing and non-practicing alike. Granite Bay businessman Gennady Shapiro said he was taken by Korik’s energy and enthusiasim. Shapiro was born in Russia during the Soviet regime. Ethnically, he is Jewish – but he knew very little of his religious tradition. “That’s how it was back then,” he said. “In those days, the state suppressed religion. I grew up having very little interest in it.” When Shapiro eventually emigrated to the United States, it took him a long time to embrace his faith. “Who helped me was Rabbi Korik and others in the Chabad,” Shapiro said. “They did something wonderful for me. I wanted to give something back.” Shapiro did so by donating money and helping to raise more funds needed to purchase the old Granite Bay firehouse. For his efforts, the Chabad bears his family name. “Mr. Shapiro did help us a lot,” Korik said. “But, many, many others stepped forward and contributed what they could in order to make this dream come true. We couldn’t have done this without all of those wonderful people.” Offering his time and services as a land surveyor was Ian Wilson. “When Rabbi Korik told me what he wanted to do, I thought it was a great idea,” Wilson said. “This is an inclusive community center being built by a community of different people. Many people are coming together to work on this in one form or another. I like being a part of that.” Korik said much more work remains. “We have a lot of remodeling to do, materials need to be purchased,” Korik said. “This is just the beginning and we have a lot to work on before it’s done.” But it will be done, he told the audience. “And when it is done, it will be a home for everyone,” Korik said. “Be assured that no matter what, you will have a home here.”