New Jewish student center opens on campus

The center is the third to open near campus
Casey Purcella / Graphic Designer

On MU’s campus, Jewish students now have another center at their disposal.

The center has been open since early November. The house functions as an open place for Jewish students to practice their faith, and it includes a kosher kitchen. It also serves as the home of Rabbi Avraham Lapine, his wife Chana Lapine and their 10-month-old son Mendel.

The center was opened as part of the international Chabad on Campus foundation that works to establish Chabad centers on school campuses for thousands of students.

"We were given options of where we could open a center, and Columbia was the best option, after we weighed the pros and cons," Chana Lapine said. "I have family in St. Louis, and he has family in Kansas City."

The center aims to cater to individual needs as well as creating a group atmosphere for participating in events together.

"We want to be able to provide both individual and group settings with the Chabad," Avraham Lapine said. "It's very important to provide both."

The center is open to students of any faith but its primary goal is to cater to Jewish students.

"We want students to be able to feel comfortable being Jewish," Chana Lapine said.

Avraham Lapine said the Chabad center aims to help Jewish students understand more about their faith.

"It's hard being Jewish in modern times, sometimes," Avraham Lapine said. "We want to help students learn how to apply being Jewish to the 21st century."

Mizzou Hillel: Jewish Campus Center is another option for Jewish places of worship in Columbia as well as Congregation Beth Shalom. Both places of worship are listed on MU's Diversity Website. The Chabad center will be the third on campus. Avraham Lapine doesn't foresee a problem with having two Jewish centers on campus and one off-campus.

"I think that there are enough students for there to be room for both centers," Avraham Lapine said. "If students can't find something at one place, they will be able to find at another."

The Lapine family has been publicizing the new center by talking to students.

"If you talk to one student, he'll talk to his friend, who will talk to his friend," Chana Lapine said. "It's going to take time to get to a large group of students."

Freshman Lee Banov said he had a vague idea of what options he had for practicing his Jewish faith when he came to MU.

"I knew there was a Hillel on campus, so that was nice," Banov said. "I didn't really plan to go often, but it was good to at least have the option to go. I didn't go to synagogue very much at home, and it's been the same in college. It's good to meet other young Jewish people who go to Mizzou."

The Chabad center is hoping to open its arms to as many Jewish students who wish to seek a religious outlet there.

"Our slogan, our motto, is 'Your Home Away From Home,'" Rabbi Lapine said. "We want everyone to feel comfortable and understand who we are as a people."

The Chabad center is located at 313 E. Brandon Road, on the corner of East Brandon Road and South Providence Road. It will be hosting a dinner this Friday night for Jewish students.

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