The Chabad Hasidism movement keeps reinventing itself in attempts to bring people closer to their Jewish heritage. Introducing: Chabar – a bar combined with a Chabad house in the center of Jerusalem's Nachlaot neighborhood.
Behind the inventive idea are secular businessman Moshe Adhan and Chabad envoy in the area Rabbi Beral'e Crombie. It's a new concept that combines a commercial bar and a neighborhood religious center. During the week, the bar hosts events and shows by local artists.
The bar targets both the religious and secular crowd and offers bi-weekly Torah classes side by side with regular performances. It's open daily between 7 pm and 11 pm and located inside an ancient Jerusalem building with stone walls that suit the intimate bar lighting.
Adhan claims that he saw many Chabad centers abroad, but usually avoided going into them because they seemed too much like synagogues. So he and Crombie decided to decorate their bar in a totally different style.
He brought couches, an alcohol bar, plasma screen and didn't forget to put up shelves for the books on Hasidism and Torah interpretation. Visitors looking to have a fun night out will be able to purchase espressos, beers and baked goods at reduced prices.
Crombie acts as the in-house rabbi while he completes his studies to become a personal trainer. According to the energetic envoy, most of the visitors to the "Chabar" are seculars and many choose the location for dates. He's less interested in attracting the haredi crowd, because he doesn't want them to scare away the secular customers.
Owners Moshe Adhan and Beral'e Crombie (Photo: Shlomi Cohen)
For all his 23 years, Crombie has already served as a Chabad envoy in India. From there, he returned to Israel to establish the Nachlaot branch. At the most recent Chabad envoys' convention in the US, he shared the idea of the 'Chabar' with his friends and received an enthusiastic response.
He claims that Chabad is already checking additional locations for Chabad houses with similar concepts. The Chabad administration welcomed the initiative and emphasized its positive aspects.
Crombie stresses that he has no intention of forcing religion on anyone; he just wants to bring a bit of Judaism to a younger crowd.
"We bring Jewish awareness to the younger generation and one can do what they wish with it. When I was in India I saw Israelis going to various meditations, yoga, introspection courses while every aspect of Judaism was untouchable in their eyes. We hope that we can show people that they can receive substance and content from Judaism the like of which they never would have imagined existed."