• J Weekly

‘Biggest little city’ finally gets a Jewish center


Chabad of Northern Nevada unveiled a new, state-of-the-art building at a ribbon-cutting ceremony last month in Reno, Nev.

Known as “the biggest little city in the world,” Reno boasts most of the conveniences expected in a city with a population of 214,000 — except for a Jewish federation, JCC or a solid Jewish infrastructure.

Rabbi Mendel Cunin and his wife, Sarah, moved to Reno in 1998, hoping to provide all three to Reno’s estimated 3,000 to 4,000 Jews.

“There are a lot of Jewish people in Reno, but there was nowhere for Jewish singles to meet other Jews, there was no place for families to hang out with Jewish friends,” Sarah explained. “There was really nowhere for the community to go. Because there is no community center here, we are trying to provide a little of everything.”

The center will also serve several California communities, such as Lake Tahoe, Susanville, Truckee and Graeagle.

In addition to housing the Gan Eden preschool, the 13,500–square foot building houses an elementary school, a senior center, Internet café, restaurant, a full-kosher kitchen and synagogue. The center will also be selling challah for Shabbat, Rabbi Cunin said.

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Chabad of Northern Nevada’s new building. photo/fitzfotonv.com


“It truly will be a Jewish community center,” said Jill Glenn, who has lived in Reno for the past five years and teaches at the center’s Jewish day school. “It really is a unique center, and you get an amazing feeling when you walk in the door. The way the building is structured really makes it become a place where anyone can come into the door.”

One of the things that most excites Sarah Cunin about the new building is its yard.

“We created a mini-forest and beach to replicate our environment,” she explained. “There were six mature cottonwoods on the property that were dead. We recycled them into various play structures, including an elevated stage made out of a large trunk. There is an outdoor classroom and a child-size garden where children can plant and eat their own vegetables.”

The new center will serve as a home for all branches of the nearby Jewish community, Sarah Cunin said.

Among the dignitaries at the ribbon-cutting ceremony May 26 was Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, who sent a statement to Lubavitch.com that read, in part: “Jewish life, culture, and tradition have always been an important part of Nevada’s history, and I am pleased to welcome Chabad’s new building as a center for Jewish education and outreach in Northern Nevada.”

“When we moved here six years ago, people always said that the area lacked a certain sense of community,” Sarah Cunin said. “Now, no one can say there’s nothing Jewish here.”

The center is located at 1175 W. Moana Lane in Reno. — lubavitch.com