HomeOctober 2011Milestone Event

Milestone Event

In the life a synagogue, there are landmark events that mark its growth: moving into a new facility and the first Sefer Torah. This year, Chabad of Tustin has celebrated both of those events, relocating to 13112 Newport Avenue, Suite H; and on Sunday, September 25, welcoming its own new Sefer Torah into the sanctuary.
Under the leadership of Rabbi Shuey Eliezrie, and his wife Blumi, the center has attracted a variety of residents since they came to Tustin in 2005.  “We have a nice community of young families who interact with each other fairly regularly,” said Eliezrie.  Initially, the focus was on adult education, which remains a vital part of the center’s programming.  Now, having this new facility “we have the ability to have many different programs,” said Eliezrie.  “We have Marty Kanselbaum to thank for helping us get the location.”  While the new center allows for the expansion of programs, and the consolidation of so many of the existing programs, it also provides greater visibility, being located in the active Packer’s Square center.
Currently, Tustin Chabad offers after-school instruction and Shabbat morning services.  Services are conducted primarily in Hebrew, with some English passages sprinkled in for further understanding.  The prayer books are written in both Hebrew and English, and the page numbers are announced continuously, so people may always catch up if they prefer to meditate at a slower speed.  The tunes are old, familiar ones, sung by those who know the words and by those who can only hum along, with all the gusto befitting the joy of the Sabbath.  In addition to services, the center offers Jewish Learning Institute classes on Tuesday evenings throughout the year, and Eliezrie also leads the Jewish Club at Foothill High School.  This past year the club held a Hanukkah party and a wonderful Purim party at the new center.  And for High Holidays, the congregation has been able to use the large unit next to its own for services and child care.  “Every week there is something going on,” the rabbi added.  And that often includes an invitation to Shabbat dinner at the Eliezrie home.
For the last few years, the Chemers Gallery had been hosting Tustin Chabad’s rich lecture series and had become a staple of the center’s activities.  “We are so grateful to Rita Chemers and her daughter Karen Raab, for allowing us to use their facility.  Their support has allowed us to provide our community with a forum for our speakers,” said Eliezrie.  Their lecture series has been a highlight for many in the community, including one given by Avram Cohen, brother of Eli Cohen, Israel’s greatest spy who was caught by the Syrians.  And while the adults of the community are drawn to the high quality of the speakers, the young people are also drawn to the center.
“The young people really love him,” said Kathy Maghbouleh.  “They look at Shuey as a religious leader who is both young and fun.  When I saw how Shuey really connected with my eldest son, I wanted to support him.”  She continued saying that he has been very honest in trying to pull the Jewish community around him. “His enthusiasm is contagious.”
It one of the reasons Kathy and her husband, Babak, underwrote the new Torah; but there is another reason as well.  “When I was a young teenager back in Iran, I had such a wonderful time at our synagogue, I dreamt one day of sponsoring a synagogue that was as much fun – it was such a welcoming place,” she said.  “And though currently sponsoring a synagogue was not a reality, we could certainly help provide a Torah to a center that had been as welcoming to us and others in the community.”  While Kathy does not consider herself a very observant Jew, she does appreciate the strong sense of Jewish community and values that her sons have been able to experience. “I just wanted to show my appreciation for all that he is doing, and I want my children to learn that being a part of a community is important.”
The selection of the new Sefer Torah was a special joy for Eliezrie.  “Up until now we have had to borrow a Sefer Torah, but now…” he smiled.  He also explained what he was looking for and how the quality of the parchment, the intensity of the ink and the handwriting of the scribe all contributed to the quality of the Sefer Torah.  He is very excited about the new Sefer Torah, whose final letters were written by Rabbi Yitzchak Newman of the Hebrew Academy on the day, September 25, the new scroll was brought to the sanctuary.  The new Sefer Torah was paraded through the street under a chuppah and brought to the Center with dancing, singing and, of course, “a nice meal afterwards.”
One of the reasons Tustin Chabad has been so successful is its focus on the community.  “I know if someone is having problems, because we are small community,” said Eliezrie.  “Blumi and I really feel very connected to this community, and it has proved to be a real joy.”
After attending the Hebrew Academy in Huntington Beach, Eliezrie went on to receive his Rabbinical Degree from the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, New Jersey.  He then spent two and half years in Israel and a year in Rostov, Russia, before returning to Orange County.  Blumi grew up in Antwerp, Belgium, and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from Touro College in Brooklyn, New York. This year they also welcomed their third little girl to the family and community.
Rabbi Shuey (as he likes to be called) and Blumi, are an energetic young couple, committed to the outreach mission of Chabad, always seeking to reach “one more person.”  As members of the Jewish community of Tustin, they are bringing a sense of connection and joy of Jewish living to their town.


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