by Isaac Thomas
Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series written by students in Dr. Rebecca Glazier’s International Religious Freedom class at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in spring, 2020. The students studied how learning positive things about religious minorities could help break the cycle of social hostilities and government restrictions on religious freedom. Each student contributed a story to this series as their effort to that end.
Founded in 1993, Lubavitch of Arkansas – Center for Jewish Life is a synagogue in Little Rock, Arkansas directed by Rabbi Pinchus Ciment. ‘Lubavitch’, the name of a town in Belarus, is where the movement was based for more than a century and translates to mean ‘Town of Love.’ The goal of the centers is to serve all Jews, regardless of differences in affiliation. As stated by Rabbi Ciment, “The overarching goal we have as a mission in our community is what we can give to someone else. The opportunity to engage with others, and of paramount importance, what we can learn from them.”
The Lubavitch of Arkansas Center educates and promotes various Jewish Observances and educational activities to Jews throughout the state of Arkansas and conducts numerous human and social service programs aiding the needy through charity and volunteer work. An important area of volunteer work is Lubavitch of Arkansas’s remarkable social services programs that sponsor dedicated groups of volunteers making regular visits to the local hospitals to provide comfort and care as well as additional assistance to those who are in need. Additionally, children at the Children’s Hospital of Arkansas are treated to gifts of toys, and receive visits from the children of the congregation at school. The elderly are also treated to the joy of children visiting and singing for them to uplift their spirits, no matter where they might be. If you would like to volunteer in assisting or know of someone who needs assistance you can call 501-217-0053.
Chabad- Lubavitch teaches understanding and recognition of the creator, the role and purpose of the creation and the importance of each creature. ‘ChaBaD’ is itself a Hebrew acronym from the words “Chochmah”– wisdom, “Binah” – comprehension and “Daat” – knowledge. Lubavitch of Arkansas, with branches located in both Little Rock and Bentonville, is the regional headquarters for the world-wide Chabad Lubavitch movement, the largest Jewish outreach network in the world with over 3,000 centers. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement has roots in the Hasidic movement of the 18th century, and today has thousands of centers around the world.
Lubavitch of Arkansas is dedicated to serving Jews of all ages, based on the foundational principles of love of a fellow, love of God, and love of Torah. Chabad Lubavitch of Arkansas provides the education and means to promote Jewish awareness, knowledge and practice through outreach, education and social service programs to help ensure Jewish continuity, such as Sabbath and holiday meals and meetings to promote observance of Sabbath and others holidays in the Jewish community such as Passover, Hanukkah, and Purim. Although unable to physically attend services at the Lubavitch of Arkansas – Center for Jewish Life in person, I am thankful and genuinely touched by the kindness and dedicated efforts of a determined community to be a force of change, goodness, and hope in the lives of so many people.