RABBI YAKOV BANKHALTER
Our Patriarch Abraham and Matriarch Sarah provided an oasis of hospitality in the desert. Their tent, opened on all four sides, welcomed weary travelers coming from all directions. Similarly, the CHABADLOFT provides an oasis of hospitality and is always open on “all four sides.” Rabbi Yakov and his wife, Avital Sara, happily greet the weary travelers (or local residents) with a giant smile and an open heart.
Rabbi Yakov's journey is quite different from most Chabad Rabbis. Yakov, grew up in a secular family from Long Island, suburban NYC. To him Judaism felt more like a membership at a country club, where one's status was based on the size of the Bar Mitzvah. Judaism seemed anything but inspiring and Yakov, known then as Jerry, promptly checked out.
During his Junior year at Ohio State University, while living it up as a memeber of a rockin' fraternity & busy bar tending for party cash, he was approached by the local Chabad Rabbi, Aryeh Kaltmann. Rabbi Kaltmann asked the most important question that Jerry would ever be asked..."ARE YOU JEWISH?". Jerry/Yakov wanted so badly to say no, but he couldn't, and reluctantly signed up on the Chabad Buckeye Campus Hit List. Thus, Rabbi Kaltman started his weekly bombardment campaign of Shabbat invitations armed with the potential promise of meeting a Jewish sweetheart...
Needless to say, the campaign eventually worked: la dolce vita of dorm life faded away, Jerry became a regular fixture in the Rabbi's classes, and slowly, Jerry started to become more like Yakov. Instead of attending the Buckeye games on Saturday mornings, he helped Rabbi Aryeh to make minyan (which took alot of self sacrifice, especially on Michigan weekend).
Eventually Jerry went on to become Rabbi Yakov, and now has his own center, CHABADLOFT, into which he welcomes the Jews he meets on the streets of Manhattan. Jews of all backgrounds come to hear about his
personal journey into judaism & mitzvahs, and to share theirs. There is never an empty seat at the Shabbos table, yet no one is ever turned away from a delicious Shabbat dinner infused with warmth, love and spirituality.
CHABADLOFT’s doors are open every day of the week at all times to offer a sanctuary for prayer and meditation. Regularly scheduled Minyan services are held during the afternoon, and Shabbat services that welcome & inspire are held every Friday night and Saturday morning. In addition, no one needs to purchase a ticket or a seat to attend a holiday service or meal since the “tent” is always available for everyone.
CHABADLOFT brings light into darkness and “illuminates” souls on a daily basis. CHABADLOFT offers a schedule of programs and classes, as well as a full library and study center that is always available to anyone wishing to stop by and study alone or with the Rabbi.