Chabad Jewish Center of Commerce/Walled Lake provides community in the Lakes Area.
In 2002, after moving to Michigan from New York, Rabbi Schneor Greenberg and his wife, Estie Greenberg, opened Chabad Jewish Center of Commerce/Walled Lake out of their Walled Lake townhouse.
Two years later, they bought a home in Commerce, running the center out of its lower level. It soon became apparent, though, that Chabad Jewish Center of Commerce/Walled Lake needed a standalone location, inspiring the Greenbergs to transition their services to a permanent home where it continues to operate today.
Serving a diverse population in the Lakes Area, which includes American, Russian and Israeli Jewish families, Chabad Jewish Center of Commerce/Walled Lake is a one-stop shop for any and all Jewish needs. “We provide anything about the Jewish lifecycle,” says Rabbi Greenberg. “A bris, a wedding, a bat mitzvah, we’re going to help.”
Services for All
Regardless of affiliation or religious background, the Chabad center serves anyone in the community in need of Jewish services, products, education or even volunteer opportunities. On Saturday morning, for example, they hold Shabbat services. The center also has a men’s club, women’s group, Hebrew school and Torah readings.
“The men get together and drink and shmooze and talk,” says Estie Greenberg of the men’s club. “They really get to know each other and share with each other.”
The women’s group, she explains, has a similar style. Recently, a women’s group event included an ice cream night at a community member’s home on the lake, where the women spent time catching up, getting to know each other and enjoying desserts.
On Sundays, on the other hand, Chabad Jewish Center of Commerce/Walled Lake offers Hebrew school for children. “We focus on the individual child,” Estie Greenberg says. “Every child gets their personal attention, which is really nice.”
The Chabad center also puts on celebrations for all Jewish holidays, giving families in the Lakes Area a central place to gather. Recently, they worked with River Forest Farm, whose owner is affiliated with Chabad, to throw an extravagant Lag b’Omer event.
People in need of items for the High Holidays, like candles or matzah, can also contact the center. The Greenberg’s daughter, Chanie, bakes challah for the community as well.
Twice a week, the center offers two classes on Zoom. One is a Tanya class and the second is a Torah class. Yet for affiliated community members looking for one-on-one education, the Greenbergs offer that as well — and the opportunities are diverse.
“It could be a Torah class; it could be more Talmud,” Rabbi Greenberg explains. “It could be mysticism. Anything that people feel that they have a desire to learn, I learn with them.”
One community member, Rabbi Greenberg says, came to the center with a request to simply learn more about Judaism as a whole. Though he wasn’t Jewish, his father was Jewish and the man wanted to explore the religion.
“I was [studying] with him for a long time about what it means to be Jewish,” he continues. “What is Judaism? What is the look of Judaism? He just found a lot of interest.”
As the closest Chabad to many communities on the western side of Oakland County, the center also sees many high school students coming to them for help with their studies or to work on assignments. “They always call Rabbi Greenberg and ask him questions or interview him for their classes,” Estie Greenberg explains.
Affiliation with Chabad Jewish Center of Commerce/Walled Lake is entirely free. There’s no real membership, the Greenbergs say, which allows anyone with an interest in Judaism to easily access their programming, services or education.
“People who live out here are a lot of times shocked. They see a Chabad, but they don’t always realize [what it is],” Estie Greenberg says, since the Lakes Area is further from Detroit than other Jewish communities.
“They say, ‘Oh, we thought we were the only Jewish people who live out here.”
That, however, is far from true — and once people discover the breadth of the area’s Jewish community, Estie Greenberg says, they’re pleasantly shocked. As a central hub for Jewish life in the Lakes Area, it’s the people themselves who help the center grow.
“We base our programming on what people have an interest in,” Estie Greenberg explains. “Once we talk to people one-on-one and say, ‘OK, what would you like to see happening for yourself, for your children, for your families’ … that’s how we grow.”