Meet the driving force behind Chabad of the Five Towns...
RABBI ZALMAN & CHANIE WOLOWIK
In September of 1995, Rabbi S. Zalman Wolowik and his wife Chanie arrived in the Five Towns with one goal in mind: to establish a Chabad Center to serve the Five Towns and surrounding communities.
Rabbi Zalman Wolowik was born and raised in Montreal and pursued his post-high school studies in New York and Israel, where he received Rabbinic Ordination. He also received dayanut, the ability to serve in Beit Din (Rabbinic court) from Rabbi Hirschprung, Chief Rabbi of Canada. In 1994, after spending a year in Gorky, Russia, enriching the Jewish community, he married Chanie Kotlarsky who was born and raised in Brooklyn and also spent time in Russia. Born into a prestigious Chabad family, she always knew she would be involved in a Chabad Center, which they found themselves directing just a short year later.
Filled with enthusiasm and inspired by the Lubavitcher Rebbe OBM's blessing, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Wolowik began to assess the needs of the community and to determine how they could make a positive impact on Jewish life in the Five Towns. People wondered and asked what they were doing here and how long they’d stay. "It's a one-way trip we take,” explained Wolowik. “It's a lifetime investment that we do. There's no return."
Before long, the energetic and driven Wolowiks found themselves completely engrossed in a host of programs, including Shabbat services and dinners, community-wide holiday programs, guest lectures, Torah classes, youth clubs and events. They reached out to the community and began individual and communal activities.
Now, 18 years later, Chabad of the Five Towns is an established presence in the Five Towns, recognized as a center of activity, infusing Jewish life with meaning and joy. "This takes enormous devotion and untiring commitment, and that's what we're here for," Chanie says. "We will spare no effort to bring positive Jewish expression to the lives of young and old of varied backgrounds and affiliation.”
Rabbi Wolowik gratefully remarks that his greatest challenge is to keep up with the growth of the Chabad Center and its activities. As they enter their tenth year, they proudly boast a thriving Hebrew School, an acclaimed Preschool, a dozen youth clubs, a mommy and me program, Cheder, Gan Israel summer and winter day camps, holiday celebrations, tens of weekly classes and lectures, regular solidarity missions to Israel, to name but a few of their various programs and campaigns.
In 2004, due to the enormous growth the organization experienced, Rabbi Meir and Hadassah Geisinsky were brought on board to serve as youth directors for the ever-continuing scope of activities. What does he have in store for our mini-Islanders? Far from lumping the kids together, Rabbi Meir & Hadassah have developed programs targeted to each age.
The Wolowiks have hundreds if not thousands of admirers. "There is nothing this man can't do," said Ely Baum of Rabbi Wolowik. Baum said Wolowik is one of the few people to touch his heart. "From our first meeting, this man gave me an overwhelming sense of security… No matter the issue or hour, this man would be there.”
When asked what were in the plans for the next 10 years of Chabad in the Five Towns, Rebbetzin Wolowik’s instant reply was “We expect ongoing growth. The nature of Chabad is to never be content with our accomplishments; we are always happy but never satisfied. We will continue to expand our programs, youth activities, adult education and further our outreach efforts to make Judaism an accessible reality to all Jews.”
Chabad of the Five Towns • 74 Maple Avenue • Cedarhurst, NY 11516 • 516-295-2478