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The New Mexican Endorses New Center

Sunday, 15 February, 2015 - 6:39 pm

The Santa Fe New Mexican ran an editorial, endorsing the New Center for Jewish Life. We feel we agree with them!

Jewish center will enrich city

Posted: Sunday, February 15, 2015 7:00 am

Diverse downtown Santa Fe will be even more welcoming once a new Jewish center opens on Manhattan Avenue.

The Chabad Jewish Center of Santa Fe, which was building a facility closer to midtown, instead will be remodeling a downtown building for its center — complete with a commercial kosher kitchen and cafe. This promises to be a wonderful attraction for visitors and locals, and another inclusive eating option for Santa Fe. Currently, according to Chabad, there are no kosher cafes in Santa Fe.

The center, to be located in a 16,000-square-foot, three-story building at 230 W. Manhattan Ave. near the intersection of Sandoval Street, is testament to Santa Fe as a place where all are welcome. It’s also a better place for the center than a residential neighborhood over the long term, as well as being more convenient for visitors. (The current Chabad center, on San Mateo and Galisteo, is located near a school and homes. An expansion there would have brought even more traffic to the busy intersection).

That the new center will exist at all is testament to hard work and faith. Rabbi Berel Levertov and his wife, Devorah Leah Levertov, moved to Santa Fe nearly 20 years ago with two small children. They were on a mission to enrich Jewish life in Santa Fe, founding Chabad Jewish Center to inspire people toward a more meaningful life. Today, Rabbi Levertov is in his mid-40s and father of six children, and the center is an essential part of Santa Fe’s religious and cultural life. 

Every year, citizens see the menorah on the Plaza — Hanukkah on the Plaza is hosted by Chabad Jewish Center — as more evidence of Santa Fe’s acceptance of all faiths. To have a thriving Jewish center so close to the center of town offers a place for questions to be answered, good conversation and a center to worship. The kosher commercial kitchen also might be the first of its kind in Santa Fe, something important both for religious and culinary reasons.

Despite Santa Fe’s identification as a majority Roman Catholic town — it is after all, the Royal City of Holy Faith of lhjSt. Francis of Assisi — there have been many faiths here throughout its long history beginning, of course, with the Native religions that still thrive. The Jewish faith is nearly as rooted as Catholicism, though. Many New Mexicans embrace the knowledge that their ancestors left Spain after the Inquisition, becoming hidden Jews who kept their religion alive behind closed curtains.

In the 19th century, migrating Jewish settlers moved to the United States. Some settled in Santa Fe and founded businesses and services, contributing greatly to territorial Santa Fe. Some of the most prosperous even contributed funds for the completion of Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy’s Cathedral of St. Francis. A Hebrew Tetragrammaton — Hebrew letters signifying the Divine — is carved over the now-basilica cathedral’s entrance.

A new center, in the heart of downtown, promises to enrich seekers of all kinds. What a welcome addition to Santa Fe. 

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