Chabad Young Professionals finds a home in the East End
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Loft livingNew space will be used for meetings and get-togethers

Chabad Young Professionals finds a home in the East End

The new loft setting, Rabbi Rosenfeld said, is the perfect atmosphere for creating relationships, both between individuals and the community.

Women Wine and Wisdom led by Sarah Rosenfeld at Chabad Young Professional's new loft space. Photo provided by Chabad Young Professionals.
Women Wine and Wisdom led by Sarah Rosenfeld at Chabad Young Professional's new loft space. Photo provided by Chabad Young Professionals.

Rabbi Henoch Rosenfeld is very specific when describing Chabad Young Professionals of Pittsburgh’s new home: It is not a house.

“It’s a loft,” Rosenfeld said. “It’s the second floor of a building. We call it the CYP Loft.”

The new space, centrally located in Pittsburgh’s East End, will be a spot for young professionals to get together on a regular basis, Rosenfeld said. The CYP Loft is also available for meetings; in fact, two groups, the Chabad Young Business Network, and Women, Wine and Wisdom, have both started holding their meetings at the new location.

Jonathan Fischer says a prayer in Tefilin at Chabad Young Professionals’ loft. Photo provided by Chabad Young Professionals.

“In addition to the regular programming and events,” the rabbi said, “this will be a space for two young Jews who want to meet at a neutral place, but not necessarily a coffee shop — a space that’s Jewishly-centered, an area they can feel comfortable in and hang out, sit on the couch and schmooze.”

CYP was established 2 1/2 years ago, at the request of Rosenfeld’s father, Rabbi Yisroel Rosenfeld, who serves as Chabad’s regional director of Western Pennsylvania.

During its first year, Henoch Rosenfeld said, CYP hosted Drinks and Dreidels, a pre-Chanukah soirée at King Fly Spirits in the Strip District, and other programs at a variety of non-traditional locations. Those types of large events will continue to be held at various locations around the city.

“We’re targeting areas like Lawrenceville, East Liberty, many of the eastern neighborhoods, the South Side, of course, and in suburban areas as well,” Rosenfeld said. “Our goal is to reach every young Jew, no matter where they are. As a result, we’re going to continue to do events wherever the best venue is.”

Last year, when CYP couldn’t host large in-person gatherings because of the pandemic, the value of one-on-one personal relationships became clear, Rosenfeld said.

“It really pushed us to think out of the box and understand what people are looking for,” he said. “What we found is that people are looking for meaningful relationships, and meaningful relationships typically get sparked in smaller settings.”

The new loft setting, Rosenfeld said, is the perfect atmosphere for creating relationships, both between individuals and the community.

Business lunch at Chabad Young Professionals’ new loft. Photo provided by Chabad Young Professionals.

“That’s how Judaism flourishes,” he said.

Unlike other Chabad centers that cast a wide net with their classes and event, CYP is designed for Jews in a particular stage of life: adults, age 22-38, who are post-college and pre-family. The goal is to fill the gap before those young Jews enter larger communal organizations.

“We’re looking to fill voids where services aren’t being offered,” Rosenfeld said.

Regardless of a person’s age or stage of life, Rosenfeld knows the importance of food in Jewish community. He said the Shabbat meals he hosts with his wife, Sarah, will continue to be held at the couple’s home.

CYP’s biweekly Bagel, Lox and Tefillin, though, which used to meet at locations across the city, is now held at the Loft. Having the event regularly at the same spot has already proven the value of the site, making programming logistically easier and increasing the number of people who attend.

Orly Olbum, 26, is finishing her master’s in statistics at the University of Pittsburgh while working full time as a data scientist at a startup software company. She attends the weekly Wednesday night Women, Wine and Wisdom class taught by Sarah Rosenfeld. She said the class has nearly doubled in size since moving to the Loft.

“We’ve always had good snacks, and they make it a very welcoming atmosphere,” Olbum said. “This is different than having it at their house, which is also very comfortable, but this makes it more of a young professional space.”

Rosenfeld views the Loft as another innovative way to help CYP accomplish its mission.

“One of our big philosophies is that every single Jew is a lamplighter,” he said. “Our job is to turn on the lamp and the flame within every person. We strongly believe that while we spread Jewish warmth, if we continue to provide opportunities for Jewish people to take part in their Judaism, people will find us.”

This year’s Drinks and Dreidels event will be held Dec. 2, at Slate Studio in the Strip District. For more information, go to cyppittsburgh.com. PJC

David Rullo can be reached at drullo@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

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