20p1.preview.jpgCongressman Donald Norcross received the “Man of the Year” award at Chabad of Gloucester County’s recent Second Annual Golf Tournament & Dinner. About 100 guests gathered to celebrate Chabad of Gloucester County’s work and its recent purchase of 9.5 acres of land in the heart of Mullica Hill. The land will be used to build a new Jewish Center to accommodate the growing needs of the Jewish community in Gloucester County.

While the Jewish community of Gloucester County has always been small and spread throughout the county, in recent years the growth has been more visible and intensified due in large part to Chabad’s innovative and successful programming, according to Executive Director Rabbi Avi Richler. Founded in 2007 by Rabbi Avi and Mina Richler, Chabad of Gloucester County has initiated programs and outreach focused on promoting Jewish pride and facilitating Jewish education in a fun and friendly way.

Over the past seven plus years, Chabad has brought together many Jewish families who were previously unaffiliated, and has created a warm, friendly, and vibrant community. In 2013, Chabad of Gloucester County opened a full time center at Rowan University to service the needs of the Jewish students at Rowan, and brought a couple, Rabbi Hersh & Fraidy Loschak on board to focus fully on Chabad of Rowan.

“Congressman Norcross has been a staunch supporter of the Jewish community as well as the State of Israel,” said Rabbi Richler, who traveled to Israel last year with Norcross, “and it was for his unwavering friendship to Israel that we felt it worthy of him receiving this award.”

In his remarks, Norcross touted his strong support of the Jewish State, warning against a bad deal with Iran that would put Israel and the rest of the world in danger. “The Jewish community here in NJ will always find my door open to express any concern on this and other important issues and Rabbi Richler knows I will answer his call any time of day or night.”

Also honored at the event were Dr. Richard and Gail Saferstein, who were given the annual “Chessed Award” and Steve Roth, who was recognized for his tireless efforts as the “Volunteer of the Year.”

Dr. Saferstein, who is dedicating the Saferstein Memorial Sanctuary, said that what drew him to Chabad was the culture of making everyone feel comfortable and welcome no matter what their background or level of observance. “I have met many rabbis in my life but never dared to address any of them by their first name until I met Avi,” remarked Dr. Saferstein in his address, continuing, “Rabbi Avi and Mina have created with Chabad of Gloucester County an umbrella under which all Jews can seek shelter.”

Remarking on what the evening represents, Steve Roth looked around and said, “Our work has really just begun, so long as there is one more Jew in Gloucester County who is not yet connected or who feels alone, we as a community cannot rest. We must continue to get the word out that there is a home for every Jew in Gloucester County, and this is the true vision of Rabbi Avi & Mina.” .