Chabad Young Philly was a seed planted in Center City in August of 2010, upon the recognition of the lack of any Jewish student center in downtown Philadelphia. Originally focused on the underserved populations at the city’s arts colleges, the Chabad House additionally quickly and organically grew into a hub of Jewish life for the graduate/medical students and young professionals living in the city.
Through its open door policy and hundreds of events 52 weeks a year, Chabad Young Philly has cultivated a tightknit, yet open community that has new attendees coming weekly as word grows of its lively Friday night meals, classes, BBQs, holidays events and many more program offerings. The Chabad House prides itself on being an inclusive environment, where Jews from every background experience the beauty of Judaism together, making new friends and having a space to gather with their peers.
Rabbi Doniel grew up in the suburbs of Philly and took a long, winding road around the globe to wind up back in his hometown running Chabad Young Philly. From being voted “most rebellious” in his senior yearbook at Abington High School, to attending Oberlin College where he became known as “Cosmic Dan” and spending his summers living and traveling in a 1970 VW Bus around the country, Rabbi Doniel does not have your typical Chassidic background. While hitchhiking around Israel his junior year, Rabbi Doniel met Chabad for the first time in Tzfat and upon discovering the beauty of his own religion, he cut his dreadlocks and traded in his rasta hat for peyos and a kippah. And the rest, as they say…. is history.
REBBETZIN REUVENA LEAH
Rebbetzin Reuvena Leah originally hails from Cherry Hill, NJ. Through a simple twist of fate, she wound up going to Jewish day school until 8th grade, which left her with an insatiable thirst to explore Judaism more. Upon enrolling at Oberlin College as a gender studies major, Reuvena became actively involved in Jewish life on campus. The rabbi and rebbetzin met during her first week of college and grew together in their observance, eventually marrying in Tzfat before returning to the US with the dream of opening a Chabad House one day. Reuvena is widely known in Philly for the countless hours she spends mentoring and teaching young women as well as her unrivaled ability to cook delectable cuisines for 1000s of hungry souls each year. A proud, accomplished mother of 7 young children, the Rebbetzin gracefully balances her personal and communal responsibilities, somehow always finding time for everyone.