A New Home for Chabad in Geneva

by Fay Kranz Greene - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

November 28, 2003

The voice mail system at the Geneva, Switzerland offices of Chabad Lubavitch answers in four languages: French, German, Italian and English.

This international city, home to several United Nations agencies, boasts a thriving Chabad organization directed by Rabbi and Mrs. Mendel Pevzner.

Rabbi Pevzner, who speaks all four languages as well as Hebrew and Yiddish, has seen the organization grow by leaps and bounds since arriving in Geneva 15 years ago as an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Today Rabbi Pevzner is preparing a grand opening celebration for a recently purchased four-and-a-half-story building which will consolidate the plethora of Chabad programs both newly created and enduring.

The building is perfectly located in the center of the city between rue de Rhone and Malagnou, in the heart of the Jewish neighborhood.

When renovations are completed, it will house the Chabad synagogue, the second largest in Geneva, which currently attracts more than 150 people for Shabbat services and as many as 1000 people for holiday programming.

The first two floors are already being used for Chabad’s newly expanded school, which opened this past September. The Ecole Juive de Geneve, Oholei Menahem Habad offers education from first grade through high school.

In addition to the new school, Chabad also has a separate building, purchased three years ago, which caters exclusively to children and teens. Known as “The Chai Center,” it is home to their kindergarten and pre-school as well as to the summer day camp which has an enrollment of more than 200 children.

The Chai Center is also a home away from home for Geneva’s Jewish youth. With spacious play and lounge areas, it creates a welcoming atmosphere for young people to hang out after school.

This program is so successful that it served as the catalyst for the expanded Hebrew school. “We started with a first grade last year” said Pevzner, “and the parents wanted more.”

Anxious to comply, Pevzner called upon the well known Swiss educator and friend of Chabad, Mr. Henry Mosel, who owns one of the most prestigious private schools in Switzerland and asked for his help.

“Not only did Mr. Mosel assist us in getting teachers and staff,” says Pevzner, but he took on the position of headmaster. This alone will double our registration for next year.”

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