It’s a pattern that repeats itself in one community after another: the Chabad House that opened only a few years back soon outgrows the space of its lively storefront upstart, and the search for larger facilities begins. But a review of the construction projects included in this feature suggests an impulse more intriguing than the need for additional space. Judging by the aesthetics and multi-purpose functions of the new buildings—some that include everything from a sanctuary to a sports club, and many of them worthy of architectural reviews—it seems that inside each fabulous exterior of glass, steel and stone, there beats the pulse of a vibrant Jewish community.
The considerable support and resources—hundreds of millions—invested in a project that positions spiritual life at the center of the community, points to a renaissance of Jewish life in places as disparate as Ekaterinburg, Russia and Mason, Ohio. The notion that Judaism belongs in the sanctuary or in the book stacks, is being replaced with a contemporary reality centered around Torah and a wholesome integration of Judaism, relevant to life itself. From Santiago to Shanghai, Melbourne to Montreal, Chabad Shluchim and their community lay leaders are building some of the most dynamic models of Jewish communal life.