Hosting over 30 Jewish students on a weekly basis comes second nature to Rosie and Rabbi Kussi Lipskier. The couple started a Chabad house at The University of Alabama in August 2015 and have impacted over 100 Jews on campus since then.
Rosie and Kussi were born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, in orthodox Jewish households. They both were involved in a Chabad community when growing up and always had a strong interest in someday starting their own Chabad house in a college town like Tuscaloosa.
“There are between 700 to 1,000 Jews on campus, and we have met about 135 of them so far,” said Rosie Lipskier.
Chabads philosophy is meaningful Judaism with joy based on intellect. Chabad is a Hebrew word that stands for wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Reaching out to every single Jew was the goal for Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain.
“Hitler wanted to hunt down every single Jew with hate, Chabad’s mission is to hunt down every Jew with love,” said Kussi Lipskier.
There are 4,000 Chabad houses worldwide and they are all self-run, self-sufficient and self-governed. When the Lipskiers initially moved to Alabama they raised money from friends and family. The couple raise all the funds in-house from donors, alumni, parents and friends.
“I feel that Judaism is a beautiful way of life, it’s not this religious doctrine with do’s and don’ts, and Shabbos is my favorite because I get to tune everything out,” said Rabbi.
Throughout the school year, the Chabad house hosts Shabbat dinners on Fridays, bagels and lox on Sundays, chicken soup hotline for students who are sick, girl’s night, religious study sessions, cooking club and high holidays such as Passover and Rosh Hashanah.
“I was skeptical about coming to Chabad at first, but now I am there almost every Friday for Shabbat,” said Samantha Kellman, a junior at UA.
Jewish students are gradually finding out about Chabad through word of mouth, get on board day and social media. Chabad is a place to gather with fellow Jews when you’re feeling overwhelmed with school or are craving a delicious home cooked meal prepared from scratch by Rosie Lipskier.
“Everything is unconditional, come as you are, there are no conditions and no rules, we meet you where you are,” said the Lipskiers.