Built on love - Rabbi following in family footsteps by starting Chabad in Twinsburg

By SUE REID for the Solon Times

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As a child, Rabbi Mendy Greenberg would run around the property of the Solon Chabad, an enclave situated on Harper and Cannon roads. It was a result of the vision of his parents, Rabbi Zushe Greenberg and his wife Miriam.

There were two key things he noticed at the time, Rabbi Mendy recalled of his childhood.

First, he said his parents, who brought a Jewish presence to Solon in 1991 with the Chabad movement, made their faith less about a building and more about the people and the community.

Prior to the Chabad being built, the elder rabbi would hold services in his home and later in the lower level of a professional building on Aurora Road before growing to rooms at Solon High School and Arthur Road School.

Solon Chabad was built in 2004 and now is home to 500 Jewish families.

The second thing that Rabbi Mendy gleaned from those early recollections, was that his parents always made a place where everyone was welcome, a place where it was “fun and cool” to be Jewish - and most importantly built a community rooted in love.

“I knew that was something I wanted to do,” Rabbi Mendy said.

The oldest of his parent’s nine children, Rabbi Mendy, 24, will be following in his father’s footsteps, but just a few miles down the road in neighboring Twinsburg. The city has no Jewish congregation at this time.

Along with his wife Mussie, 21, the young couple plan to start the Twinsburg Chabad. Rabbi Mendy and his wife are roughly the same age as his parents were when they first arrived in Solon. Chabad is a “couple’s job,” explained Rabbi Zushe, 51.

Rabbi Mendy will begin by reaching out to all of the Jewish families in Twinsburg, meeting them in their homes, as well as conducting High Holiday services throughout the community.

Like his parents, he will jump in feet first, determining the needs of the community with a goal of building a permanent home.

“You jump in there, start swimming, and find out their needs,” said Miriam, 46.

Rabbi Mendy excitedly described the first event of the Twinsburg Chabad, which will take place Friday (Sept. 1) in the form of a tailgate party for the Solon vs. Twinsburg High School football game. The tailgate, featuring traditional Jewish foods prepared by Mussie Greenberg, will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Twinsburg High School.

“We’re looking to get on the ground and meet people,” Rabbi Mendy said. This friendly rivalry in the form of a tailgate will be the start.

Next month, he will conduct services for Rosh Hashanh on Sept. 21 and Yom Kippur on Sept. 30 at the Twinsburg Community Center. The regular service will begin at 10 a.m. and be followed by a child-friendly service at 11 a.m.

Rabbi Mendy and his wife, who recently purchased a house in Twinsburg, have a 3-month-old daughter Rachel.

“I am extremely proud,” Rabbi Zushe said. “The dream of every parent is that a child will continue in his footsteps. It’s amazing.”

He advised his son to be patient and to be consistent in loving people and reaching out.

Rabbi Mendy, who attended the Central Chabad Rabbinical School in Brooklyn, New York, said the people of Twinsburg have thus far been welcoming and excited for the Chabad.

Chabad is Hebrew for wisdom, understanding and knowledge. It is one of the largest Jewish organizations in the world known for its outreach. For more information on the Twinsburg Chabad, visit the Facebook page or email Twinsburg[email protected].

A student of the Jewish Day School at the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland, Rabbi Mendy attended a Jewish Chabad High School in Detroit. While at rabbinical school, he took part in a variety of internships, including running a Chabad in China.

He also served rural areas in Milwaukee, bringing the Jewish experience to communities that could not support their own synagogue. He visited people of the Jewish faith in their offices in the day and studied the Torah with them, he said.

Rabbi Mendy said he has seen through his father’s example that being a rabbi is a 24-hour job, and a “lifetime investment.

“They never stop thinking about it,” Rabbi Mendy said.

In addition to Rabbi Mendy, the Greenbergs have two sons in law who are rabbis. Their daughter Mushkie’s husband Rabbi Shimon Galperin assists at the camp at the Solon Chabad and their daughter Chanee’s husband Rabbi Levi Raichik opened a Chabad at Ohio University.

“I never told him what to be,” Rabbi Zushe said of Mendy. “It was his choice.”

Miriam added that she tells her son it’s not about the amount of membership of his Chabad that matters, “it’s about creating a Jewish community in Twinsburg.

“The focus is not on the building,” Miriam said. “It’s about connecting to the people.”