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Rabbi Zev Wineberg and his wife Rivka arrived in Long Island City four years ago. Since then, the western Queens neighborhood has expanded – bringing new buildings, new people and new needs.

One such need in the neighborhood is a space that community members can utilize for all types of gatherings – both religious and secular – and can act as a focal point for L.I.C.

The Winebergs are doing their part to help foster community relations, recently opening Chabad LIC on Jackson Avenue. At the grand opening on September 22, Rabbi Zev said that since he moved to L.I.C. four years ago, there has been a growing need and desire for, not only a Jewish community center, but a community center that reaches out to all people.

“There’s no communal space here,” the Rabbi said. “So many people moved to this neighborhood specifically to be in this neighborhood, but they don’t know each other. A lot of people who are religiously involved tend to meet people and become socially active in their religious circle, but people who are not religious or observant tend to not have a place to meet their neighbors.”

The Chabad (10-31 Jackson Avenue) will host many different types of meetings, according to Rabbi Zev and Rivka. Aside from prayers and religious observances, they will most likely also host adult education courses, “mommy and me” classes and various other types of meetings. Rabbi Zev said that with such a diverse neighborhood, it is important cater to anyone looking to make connections.

“Itss very important that people don’t just live next door, but know their neighbors,” he said. “It’s a very friendly neighborhood, people do say hi to each other, people know each other from the stores and all of that, but it’s important to have a venue to be able to get together.”

At the Chabad opening, which featured Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer as well as some notable L.I.C. residents, Rabbi Zev welcomed his friend Yitzchok Moully – otherwise known aas the “Pop Art Rabbi” – who displayed his nontraditional take on the Jewish tradition.

“My work is mainly contemporary, but traditional,” he said. “I’m trying to bring two distinct worlds together.”

And this is exactly what the Winebergs want to do in L.I.C.

“We wanted a space that is homey and open to any person in the neighborhood. It’s theirs. It belongs to everyone,” said Rivka. “In L.I.C., there’s a mix of a whole bunch of new people, new businesses and new life. It’s just so amazing.”

For more information on Chabad LIC, visit www.jewishlic.com or call 718-609-0066.

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