The Chabad Center is guided by the idea that there should be a place where everyone can feel at home, within a Jewish context. There should be a Center for Jewish discovery where open-minded exploration is the key, not background or affiliation.
Ours is a place where Judaism is celebrated joyfully and meaningfully, where Judaism sheds relevant perspective to our daily lives. With opportunities to expand the mind, excite the heart and touch the soul, our Center offers a wide range of learning venues, for all ages, where questions are encouraged and embraced.
Located in Basking Ridge, NJ, with satellites in Clinton, Fanwood and Hillsborough, our Center is premised on the idea that every individual has an indispensable contribution to make to the totality of the human experience.
Come, let’s journey together!
The organizational mindset of the Chabad Center is permeated by Core Values. These values find expression in all of our programs and activities. They are not a list of disconnected ideas but a holistic unit that forms our attitude to life.
RELATIONSHIPS. Life is enriched by the relationships we form. At Chabad, we deeply value a sense of context. We seek genuine relationships with each other, with the environment, and with the Divine.
EXPLORATION. A constant openness to questioning allows us to discover new frontiers; it is a necessary tool in the unfolding of our own potential. At Chabad, we respect this power of exploration, and celebrate its processes.
TIME. Time is not just a passive backdrop to our lives. Rather, it comprises moments, periods and holidays, each with its own distinct message, guiding us to various aspects in our journey of self-growth. At Chabad, our openness to the lessons of these moments, allows us to access the power of Time.
SPACE. Space is more than just the natural context of our lives. It can have such a profound effect on how we feel and the way we operate. At Chabad, we are conscious of the power of Space, respecting its designations.
RESPONSIBILITY. Our human instinct is to focus on what we want or need from others. Responsibility is a mindset which reverses the flow, emphasizing our mandate to respond to other's needs. It's not what we want out of life, but what life wants out of us. At Chabad, we see Responsibility as a beautiful thing, not as a burden.
JOY. Living right is an intense experience, but we must never lose the lightness of being, the feeling of boundless joy. At Chabad, we focus on the joy of simply ‘being in the moment’, and celebrate who we are within a shimmering world.
The story of our Chabad Center does not begin in Basking Ridge... it began almost three hundred years ago in the Carpathian Mountains in Poland with the birth of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of Chassidism.
The Jewish community had been decimated by pogroms throughout Eastern Europe. Entire villages were wiped out and the remaining Jews plunged into despair. To make matters worse, the Jewish masses didn’t even have their faith to sustain them. At the end of the seventeenth century, Torah-scholarship was restricted to an elite class, who regarded the masses as illiterate, second-rate Jews.
The Baal Shem Tov (as he was known) introduced a perspective – known as Chassidism – that made spirituality and Judaism accessible and meaningful to the entire spectrum of the Jewish community. Chassidism breathed life into a beaten Jewish psyche.
One of the greatest of the early Chassidic leaders was Rabbi Schneur Zalman (1745-1812). He founded the “Chabad-Lubavitch” stream of the Chassidic movement. “Chabad” is an acronym of three Hebrew words: chochmah – wisdom, binah – understanding, and da’at – knowledge. "Lubavitch", the town in which it was based, actually means 'brotherly love," which is emblematic of the love and dedication that characterizes Chabad-Lubavitch and its representatives.
In the early 1940s, the devastation of the Holocaust brought Chabad-Lubavitch to reestablish itself in the United States. Led by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known as the ‘Rebbe’ (spiritual master), who was motivated by a profound love for humanity and spurred by boundless optimism, Chabad launched an unprecedented range of Jewish institutions, outreach programs and social services.
Today, more than 2,800 Chabad-Lubavitch institutions span over forty countries on six continents. Our educational and social service institutions serve all Jews - and many non-Jews - regardless of affiliation or background. In the United States alone, more than 700 centers serve communities in every state in the Union.
Here in New Jersey, the Chabad outreach phenomenon began as an outgrowth of the Rabbinical College of America. That first Chabad institution in New Jersey grew into today’s 41 Chabad Centers throughout our state.
In 1991, newlyweds Rabbi Mendy and Malkie Herson contemplated their future. In Chabad, the relevant question facing a young couple is not whether they should devote their lives to Jewish continuity and education, but rather where they should settle to work for this ideal. Chabad recognized that Jews were moving west, and that there was a growing need for Jewish infrastructure in the Somerset and Hunterdon county areas. So, the Hersons moved to Basking Ridge. They used their condominium 'headquarters' to strengthen Jewish identity in the area, with holiday programming and classes for adults and children.
As our programming expanded, we added more people to our team, heightening the effectiveness and scope of our programming, schools and synagogue.
In 1994, we purchased our Chabad Center property (3048 Valley Road), eventually purchasing the two adjacent properties, totaling 7½ acres. In 2003, we completed the first phase of our building, comprising classrooms and offices. The second phase will include our sanctuary, social hall, and more classrooms.
We have three satellite centers: In 2001, Rabbi Avrohm and Malky Blesofsky joined us as directors of Chabad in Union County. In 2002, Rabbi Shmaya and Miriam Krinsky joined as directors of Chabad of Greater Hillsborough. In 2003, Rabbi Eli and Rochel Kornfeld joined as directors of Chabad of Hunterdon County.