Tri Valley Herald 4/21/06

Chabad's Jewish Learning Center provides spiritual nourishment throughout the Tri-Valley

Jewish Center Teaches Heritage
Facility provides a sense of culture

By Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig, STAFF WRITER


About a month ago, Mark Hoffman says he felt the need to explore his Jewish roots.

The Pleasanton resident decided to contact the Chabad of the Tri-Valley, a center for Jewish life and education in the area, to see what was available and soon began private instruction through its Jewish Learning Center.

"It has been beneficial and enjoyable," says Hoffman, 40. "It's more like learning through a philosophical discussion."

The Jewish Learning Center began informally last fall with the help of Rabbi Raleigh Resnick and his wife, Fruma. Based in the couple's home, until they locate a facility, it's dedicated to providing a complete and thorough Jewish education to the Valley community. No prior background or knowledge is required for most of the course offerings.

Fruma Resnick, who coordinates the courses, says she and the Rabbi were asked to move to the area by the local Jews and Rabbi Yakov Kagan, director of the Chabad of Contra Costa.

"People here wanted more, something for them and their children," says the New York native, adding the growth has been tremendous. "They all thought there was a need and they wanted us here."

Educational offerings

Currently the center offers a weekly Torah class where "students" discuss the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures, various topics and learn about the holidays and events in the Jewish faith; bar mitzvah lessons for boys age 13 and bat mitzvah lessons for girls age 12; and a six-week Hebrew language course for beginners.

One of the favorite offerings is the one-on-one study.

"There is a tremendous thirst and hunger for education," Fruma Resnick says. "Very few people know about their heritage." She adds there are more and more people from her faith moving here and there are no centers specifically for Jewish studies, especially for adults.

A dynamic force

Although the center is geared toward those who are Jewish, Fruma Resnick says they will accept local non-Jewish residents who are serious about learning Judaism.

Chabad of the Tri-Valley is a part of Chabad-Lubavitch International, a philosophy, movement and organization considered by many to be the most dynamic force in Jewish life today. It focuses on providing youth programs and community service to and for the Valley's estimated 10,000 Jewish people. For more information, visit

"Whatever we can do to help the Jewish community and anybody in need," Fruma Resnick says.

She says the Valley center is also proud of its focus on children, which includes a mommy-and-me playtime; its Good Deeds club, which assists those in need; its teen club; and monthly women's circle. Fruma Resnick says she tries to make these programs as interactive as possible.

Resnicks get credit

Hoffman, who said he was not active with the local Chabad while living in San Francisco, has found the Tri-Valley Chabad to be one he enjoys. He credits this primarily to the Resnicks. He believes they can help him in raising his own children.

"I want to be more of a role model for my kids," Hoffman say. "To give them a richer, Jewish experience."

Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig can be reached at (925) 416-4817 or at [email protected].