While one might miss it driving down Tadmuck Road, in an unassuming white house lies the Chabad Center of Nashoba Valley, one of dozens of the centers for the Jewish sect across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
There, Rabbi Zalman Gurkow (he prefers Zalman) lives in the house and leads services and events for Chabad year round.
“We started here in Westford five or six years ago,” Rabbi Zalman said. “From the day we moved in, this house has been open to the entire Jewish community. We run programs, services, classes, lectures, childrens programs.”
Chabad is a Hasidic (orthodox) community that originated in Russia.
Today, it is headquartered in Brooklyn, New York and is one of the biggest Jewish organizations in the world, with nearly 4,000 Chabad centers across the planet.
“Everywhere you go in the world today, and certainly in every corner of the United States, in every unimaginable, far-flung corner of the world there is a Chabad center that runs Jewish activities.,” Zalman said.
The Chabad of Nashoba Valley organizes events for every Jewish occasion from the High Holy Day services to programs for local Jewish youth.
“During the summer we run (a) children’s summer camp for one week at the end of August,” Rabbi Zalman said. “We bring the kids together and we give them a great week, but it’s all spiced with Jewish pride. Jewish identity. Most of these kids continue to remain in touch with us for much of the year.”
Zalman went on to say that Chabad had also recently started a program called Kids in the Kitchen which taught local children how to make traditional Jewish foods.
Zalman’s Chabad, unlike most places of Jewish worship, does not have a membership fee and Jews from all walks of life are welcome to attend any of their many events.
“Chabad typically seeks to attract the unaffiliated Jewish group,” Zalman said. “Those that usually do not participate in Jewish activities. Those that are not members of the local temple or synagogue. Yet, they have that real Jewish heart that every Jew is born with. Those are the people that come here.”