Jewish Ospreys to have new, larger facility at Chabad of Southside

Tiffany Butler

Rendering of the new facility. Photo Courtesy of Rabbi Novack.
Rendering of the new facility. Photo Courtesy of Rabbi Novack.

Chabad of Southside is breaking ground on a new $2.4 million facility in September, which will provide the Jewish Ospreys with a bigger and better place to call home.

Chabad is a Jewish organization that focuses on educating and connecting Jewish young adults with their heritage. Rabbi Shmuli Novack, who co-founded the current center with his wife, Chana Novack, said the center is designed to create a warm, welcoming, friendly environment for Jewish students to participate in.

For many Jewish UNF students, Chabad provides a sort of home away from home, which has been their goal all along. They want students to have a safe place where they can connect with people who have the same values.

Rendering of the new facility. Photo Courtesy of Rabbi Novack.
Rendering of the new facility. Photo Courtesy of Rabbi Novack.

Novack said he expects this expansion to have an impact on the interests of Jewish students attending and looking to attend UNF.

“A week doesn’t go by when we don’t have an email from parents asking us to tell them about our program,” Novack said.

Michael Levin, a UNF alumni who graduated in 2006, said Chabad was a really big part of his college years.

“It was one of the first times I’ve met people so engaged and passionate about Judaism,” Levin said.

Gabby Ashbrook, a current UNF student who’s been involved with Chabad the last few years, said it was different from any experiences she’d had with Judaism prior to coming to UNF.

“It’s not like going to synagogue, it’s like going to see your friends and have a great meal,” Ashbrook said.

Some Jewish Ospreys going bowling and bonding. Photo courtesy Rabbi Novack.
Some Jewish Ospreys going bowling and bonding. Photo courtesy Rabbi Novack.

Currently, Chabad of Southside is using a modest facility located on Alumni Way, off of St. Johns Bluff Road. The new one will be on the same property, and make use of some property that was purchased from their neighbors, the Catholic Ospreys.

“It’s a really interesting kind of interfaith angle where the Catholic Ospreys are working with the Jewish Ospreys,” Novack said.

The new facility will be 10,000 square feet and feature a student lounge and library, a kosher cafe, a full synagogue, a full kitchen, a dining hall, and preschool.

“It’s actually designed with two wings and the architect didn’t have this in mind, but the whole swoop concept, it looks like the wings are kind of swooping,” Novack said.

They plan to break ground on the new facility Sept. 18 and expect it to be complete in early 2018.

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