By Amanda Lee
The campaign for a new, larger home for Stanford’s Chabad House got a boost late this past summer when alum Tad Taube ’53 M.S. ’57 donated $1.3 million to the Jewish religious center, which serves Stanford community members.
According to Rabbi Dov Greenberg, Chabad House’s executive director, Chabad recently launched a fundraising campaign for $6 million to buy land and construct a new facility and is currently finding land to purchase. Right now, the house sits at 1289 College Avenue, just off Hanover Street.
“We’re still looking for the most suitable location — so that search is still underway — but the space in Palo Alto next to Stanford requires significant funding,” said Greenberg. “[Taube] gave a very generous gift, but we still are in the middle of the campaign. We’re nowhere near the end of it.”
With the move, Chabad hopes to address its current lack of space.
“The existing Chabad, Stanford Chabad, facility is too small,” Taube said. “They literally have people hanging out windows and doors when they have their Friday night services. So, the purpose of the new center is really to accommodate the much greater level of participation they’re getting now from Stanford students and Stanford faculty.”
Taube has been a major donor to the University in the past: Campus projects he has funded include the Taube Family Tennis Stadium and the Taube Center for Jewish Studies, which he founded. He announced the donation to Chabad House through an August press release published by his foundation, Taube Philanthropies.
Taube said his donation is his way of repaying the world for what it has given him.
“I was successful in business and at a certain point in my life, I decided that the world had been good to me, that the country — my country — the United States of America, had bestowed blessings on me, particularly being an immigrant, and I wanted to do what I could to enhance communities that had supported me,” Taube said.
Additionally, he said, as a Holocaust survivor, he believes it is important for him to support Jewish culture. He came to the U.S. at age eight as a Jewish immigrant from Poland.
“I had plenty of opportunity to witness the horrors of the Holocaust, including the loss of probably 80 percent of my family,” Taube said. “So having significant involvement in Jewish philanthropy is very natural for me.”
Nico Stainfeld ’20, treasurer of the Stanford Israel Association — a student club that promotes Israel and Jewish culture — said plans for the new center will make Chabad House into a long-awaited Jewish community center.
“We have Hillel, but we’ve never been actually recognized as a true community center and whatever benefits that gives [us] in the eyes of the administration, so that’s something that we’ve been fighting for continuously for a long time,” Stainfeld said.
Stainfeld said the new center is particularly important to the Jewish community in light of recent hate crimes against Jewish community members, such as Swastikas graffitied around campus and anti-Semitic flyers sent to University printers. Stainfeld noted that the Jewish community did not receive the same campus outpouring of support following these hate crimes as minority groups did in the wake of the presidential election and said he was “disappointed that we did not, in my opinion, receive an up-well of support.”
“So I think bolstering the image of Chabad on campus … [and] recognizing Hillel’s community center would be hugely helpful,” he said.
Greenberg agreed that the new Chabad House will strengthen the Jewish community. He said that at the moment there is no set date for the center to open since the fundraising campaign only just started.
Greenberg hopes the center will be able to host services, lectures, celebrations and more and serve as a place for students from across campus and across academic backgrounds to meet. He added that Stanford community members of any faith are welcome at Chabad House.
“This is a center that is meant to celebrate human beings as we come together, treat each other with dignity and love, so it certainly will go a long way to creating a more vibrant and beautiful community at Stanford,” Greenberg said. “And it’s the opposite of … those people who spray some kind of graffiti that represents hatred and dark forces in the world; [this] is a center that is about light and love.”
Contact Amanda Lee at amanda828 ‘at’ gmail.com.