A Chai Centre, or Chabad house as it is otherwise known, is a Jewish community centre that serves the needs of the Jewish community. They are very popular in areas densely populated with the Jewish faith, and provide the followers of the religion with support and the care that they need. This article will outline some of the activities and ceremonies that can be held in a Chai Centre, to give you a better understanding of their purpose in the Jewish community.
One of the most common activities held in Chai Centres are Torah classes. Torah is the Hebrew word for the first five books of the bible and it is the foundation of the Old Testament. In these classes, people will learn about the history of the Torah and the characters within the text. It often referenced to the modern day, and helps people understand how the Torah can influence their lives and their relationship with god.
Chabad houses also provide a synagogue service known as a Shabbat. Shabbat is the Jewish Sabbath, which is celebrated every week from sundown on Friday to nightfall of Saturday. Shabbat starts with the lighting of candles by women and girls on Friday afternoon, followed by evening prayers. The Jewish community will then enjoy a festive meal which is opened by the Kiddush blessing over wine or grape juice, followed by the Hamotzieblessing over two whole loaves of bread called Challah. This meal is an integral part of oneg Shabbat “delighting the Shabbat”.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah
Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s are common events at Chai Centres. They not only provide the synagogue service, but also somewhere for the ceremony party to take place.
A Bar Mitzvah is the initiation ceremony of a Jewish boy who is now able to observe religious precepts and eligible to take part in public worship. When a boy reaches the age of 13, he is said to become a Bar Mitzvah, which literally translates to “son of commandment”. At this age he now has the same rights as a fully grown man and is ethically and morally responsible for his decisions and actions.
A Bat Mitzvah is the initiation ceremony of a Jewish girl who has reached the age of religious maturity. This age is always 12 years and one day. When a girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah she is now a daughter of commandment and has the same rights as an adult. On this day she is now also responsible for her actions on a moral and ethical level.
After either a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, a celebratory party usually takes place where there is food is eaten and gifts are given to the child.
Other than religious ceremonies and events, the Chai Center also gives the Jewish community somewhere to learn and to interact with other Jewish people. There are often friendship circles provided in each Chabad house, which allows everyone to get together to participate in fun activities, such as charity events and raffles.