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'Chabad at the Shore' Hopes for Sunny Minyan
The synagogue, called Chabad at the Shore, is being run by Chabad of Atlantic County, a roughly 14-year-old organization based in Margate, N.J., the town that neighbors Ventnor.
The Margate site -- not too far from the brand-new Milton and Betty Katz Jewish Community Center of Atlantic County -- includes a synagogue.
However, that Chabad shul is located on a block that's not often traversed by tourists or beachcombers, according to Rabbi Shmuel Rapoport, who oversees Chabad of Atlantic County.
But Chabad at the Shore, at 6525 Ventnor Ave., lies smack-dab in Ventnor's business district, and should make it easy for folks to walk to services on Shabbat, explained the rabbi.
Rapoport understands that even families who are active in synagogue life often scale back their participation during summertime. He maintained that by placing a synagogue where so many Jews spends their vacations would make it easier for families to go to Shabbat services and other Jewish programs.
Rapoport has enlisted the help of his son, 25-year-old Rabbi Avrohom Rapoport, to help run the new synagogue.
"We realize that you need to gear programs for the summer people," said the elder Rapoport, who noted that it was actually his 23-year-old son, Rabbi Yossi Rapoport, who was the major force behind creating the new synagogue.
But since Yossi Rapoport is not married, he's not allowed to represent Chabad as an official emissary, his father stated.
"People coming down for the summer -- this gives them the sense that they are participating without them feeling like they are joining anything," Shmuel Rapoport said, adding that the majority of those who participate in Chabad's shore programs belong to congregations in their hometowns.
Chabad at the Shore will function year-round, though its programming will be scaled down in the off-season, according to Avroham Rapoport.
The new Ventnor synagogue is the latest manifestation of a growing Chabad presence along the Jersey shore. Three years ago, the group opened "Crafts for Kids," also in a storefront on Ventnor Avenue, as a venue for activities for children.
Just about 10 years ago, Chabad opened its first Cape May County facility in Wildwood, N.J. Avroham Rapoport also coordinates programming for that.
Shmuel Rapoport, who lives in downtown Atlantic City, often hosts Friday-night dinners and other Shabbat events at his home. On Saturday mornings, however, he usually walks several miles to lead services at the Margate site.
"The goal is to open up more centers for summer communities along the coast," said Avroham Rapoport. "We see a need, and we open the doors."
For more information, call 609-822-8500.