LIHUE — There are an estimated 1,000 Jewish people on Kauai, but there is not a center dedicated to their spiritual needs, said Rabbi Michoel Goldman of Gani, a nonprofit Jewish organization.
“It’s hard for me to fathom, but that’s all about to change,” Goldman said. “Every community needs a home, a hub and a center from which to operate optimally.”
Now Gani, which means “My Garden” in Hebrew, has finally found a building in Wailua to serve as a permanent meeting place. For years, those of the Jewish faith have been meeting at neighborhood centers, homes, and even renting hotel space.
“Inevitably, there is a scheduling conflict and they (venues) are not available, or we must rush our event to be out in time for the next one,” Goldman said. “Moreover, we have to pack in and pack out all our supplies each time. It just feels so temporary.”
The new Kauai Jewish Center is at 4531 Pouli Road in Suite 102, just south of Foodland in Waipouli. It will be a space where all are welcome.
“Our goal, and challenge, is to provide diverse programs, classes and gatherings, which will cater to the equally diverse spectrum of our community,” Goldman said.
Jerusalem’s ancient Holy Temple serves as the ideal model for their Jewish Center. Their ancestors wandered in the desert for 40 years before arriving in the Promised Land ,where they had their Temple in Jerusalem for 830 years.
“Before that, even in their wanderings, they set up a Tabernacle, which was where the gatherings took place,” Goldman said. “While this new center is a rented space and not our final destination — we hope to ultimately own land and a building — it is our current home. And we’re very excited.”
A dedication will be announced once the center is furnished.
They are running a fundraiser, with an aim of $36,000, to cover rent for the first few months, purchase furniture and conduct interior work.
“We are part of the worldwide Chabad movement, headed by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, our spiritual leader,” Goldman said.
Chabad has over 3,600 centers around the world. The Chabad of Kauai chapter is led by Goldman and his wife Zisel.
“This is going to change the trajectory of Jewish life on Kauai,” Goldman added.