Chabad is a Jewish organization founded in 1775 by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. The name “Chabad” (Hebrew: חב״ד) is a Hebrew acronym for ChochmahBinahDa’at (חכמה, בינה, דעת): “Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge”, which represent the intellectual underpinnings of the movement. The focus of the group is to engage in acts of kindness that will help heal the world (Tikkun olam, Hebrew: תיקון עולם or תקון עולם‎).

Iowa City is fortunate to have a Chabad House in our community. Because we’re a college campus town, the Chabad House is also a center for student life on campus (in addition to the Hillel).

I met the Chabad Rabbi and his family when they first moved to Iowa City many years ago, and we’ve been friends ever since. I offer them tech support when they need it, and try to help out in other ways as I’m able. I’ve learned a lot from them about Judaism along the way.

The other day I stopped by their home and as I was leaving, some people in a car asked me if it was the Chabad House. I said yes and we had a nice conversation. They were parents visiting the University of Iowa with their son. Apparently they were looking at a variety of schools, and as part of their visit, it was important for them to seek out the local Chabad center and meet the family. The son and parents seemed enthusiastic about their visit to the center.

After meeting that family, I reflected on how Judaism has survived through the generations, for thousands of years, and what I saw was that moment of decision where parents and children make a choice about how they will move forward into the next chapter of life. Is college and adulthood a time to get away from family and break from tradition? Or, is it a time to hold on to family, and grow in tradition, to become stronger as we go forward in life to take on what’s next? How one answers those questions changes more than just their own destiny. It impacts the world.