Friday, February 28, 2020

Mishenichnas Adar! What better way to increase your joy than by doing something you love. That’s what Rabbi Boruch Klar and his wife, Devorah, do every day. In a Rosh Chodesh Adar interview with The Jewish Link, Rabbi Klar excitedly shared that after almost 25 years, they are reinventing the Lubavitch Center.

“This is the only ‘going-out-of-business’ sale where we’re not going out of business, and the only ‘grand opening’ that won’t be a grand opening,” Rabbi Klar remarked.

His enthusiasm for this new venture was contagious, and he was thrilled to share the details.

“I have a vision, and we’ll see how it comes out. Right now we’re selling all our inventory at cost or below. We are making space,” he said. “Sometimes you get to a time in your life when something happens or a situation occurs, and you need to make a decision. You can take a positive or negative view of that.”

Rabbi Klar’s view is nothing but positive. “The Lubavitch Center was created for the Jewish community; it was not created as a business. But we started to realize that we are not going to compete with Amazon, and something had to change. So how could we best continue our mission to serve the community? What could we do better? We could be who we are, but better,” he stated.

“I always wanted to give people everything they wanted, to fill the store so they had all the options,” noted Rabbi Klar.

That desire created a tremendous inventory and a store which was a bit overcrowded. “As I’m selling everything at 50-80% off, I see that the store looks so much better with less stuff on the shelves.”

Less inventory but not going out of business? So what is the plan?

“We are still going to be a Judaica store. We will be the same, but presented better. We will no longer sell everything, but we will have the best things. I think people need less selection so they are not so overwhelmed,” Klar shared. “We will have more space.”

Rabbi Klar’s vision is to “move everything, all the furniture, from the front of the store back about 30 feet. We are going to put about 16 chairs and some small tables in the front of the store, for classes or just for people to come in and relax. They can bring their laptops or meet friends. We are going to serve coffee and maybe a little food, ” he said.

To be clear, Rabbi Klar emphasized that this will not be a restaurant but rather “a place where Jewish people can have a cup of coffee and hang out. They can do work or just sit. We are going to be comfortable and inviting.”

No opening date has been set yet, but “it’s gonna happen,” Rabbi Klar said. “It is a bit of a work in progress, but the furniture is on its way. I can tell you the food will not be expensive. We are not looking at this as a business, but as a service. How the food will work is to be determined depending on township regulations.”

The Klars are also the proprietors of The Shabbat House, which sits on Eagle Rock Avenue, around the corner from the Lubavitch Center. “We already take care of people on Shabbos,” Klar commented. “With this new venture we will be able to take care of people the other six days, giving them a place to sit, have coffee and a nosh, and conversation if they want it.”

Rabbi Klar is excited because he feels he and his wife will be able to be more involved in the store this way. “I will need to be there more. I want to be able to speak with the people. We are going to be there for the community in whatever way they need.”

“We are in West Orange because that’s where the Rebbe sent us,” he added pensively. “For almost 25 years we have been giving the community what it needs. At this point, the community definitely needs this.”

“I am so excited for this project. You have to keep growing. We are reinventing the concept, not renovating the store. This is a mission, not a business venture,” Rabbi Klar said, with his excitement evident in his voice.

What better time for a little excitement than during Adar?

The Lubavitch Center is located at 456 Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange. For additional information, please call 973.731.0770.

By Jill Kirsch