Fairfield to become a new Jewish homeland



There's new Jewish voice in Fairfield. Chabad, a multinational Orthodox Jewish organization with offices and representatives in nearly every major city in the world, is stretching its fingers into Fairfield.

Of course, according to the head of Chabad of Fairfield, it's not a long stretch.

Chabad already has a Westport office, which is running a "Dreidel House," on the Post Road in Westport throughout the holiday of Chanukah, and though hard numbers can be elusive, there are a significant number of Jews in Fairfield.

"There are quite a few Jews living in Fairfield," Rabbi Shlame Landa, the new head of Chabad of Fairfield. "Fairfield has a large enough Jewish community," to support a Chabad office of its own, he said.

Though managed and administered by Jews who live an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle, Chabad is not geared specifically for those Jews who live the Orthodox life.

The intention of Chabad, Landa said, is to, "inspire a commitment to Judaism."

"We're here for Jews from all walks of life," he said.
Chabad Lubovitch, is so named owing to the town of Lubovitch in Russia from which the organization grew out of. According to the organization's Web site, "The word "Chabad" is a Hebrew acronym for the three intellectual faculties of: chachmah-wisdom, binah-comprehension and da'at-knowledge."

After World War Two, Menachem Mendel Shneerson, the spiritual leader of Chabad Lubovitch (simple called "the Rebbe" by many of his followers), who by then lived in the United States, invigorated the movement and inspired his followers to form the international organization that exists today. The first movement recognizes its first spiritual leader as Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, 1745-1812.

Shneerson, who became the Lubavitcher Rebbe in the 1940s when his father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, ceded control to the younger man, died in 1994.

Chabad's mission is one of adherence to Jewish laws and custom, but also of inclusiveness. Shneerson, for example, was quoted in the New York Times before his death as saying, "Everything in this world was created for a divine purpose. All forms of modern technology can and should be harnessed to make the world a better place and, in the case of Jews, to spread Judaism in the widest possible manner."

Landa, 24, is the son of Yosef Landa, head of Chabad's St. Louis group.

"I grew up with this," Shlame Landa said. Although he currently lives in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, he expects to move to Fairfield as early as next week.

Landa is excited about the future of Fairfield's Chabad. Though the organization does not yet have a home, The JCC of Eastern Fairfield County, located just over the Fairfield border on Park Avenue in Bridgeport, has been providing Chabad with space and, last week, the organization's first event went off without a hitch.

Offering children a chance to learn the ins and outs of Chanukah, Landa officiated over a throng of nearly 200 Jewish children, most if not all of whom were not religious.
But changing that lack of connection to religious Judaism is Landa's hope and mission in Fairfield.

"They don't have any affiliation to Judaism - yet," he said.