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Inclusivity -A Letter to Local Community from Rabbi Pesach Burston of Chabad of Orange County

Rabbi Pesach Burston and Chana Gellman Burston

at Chabad of Orangee County in Monroe, New York

Hesitant to join Chabad? Not sure if you will fit in? Let’s chat about some of the misconceptions about Chabad..

This is my Open Letter to the community:

I’m the Rabbi at the Chabad of Orange County. We’d like you to join us for the High Holidays. These are the things you should know about us first. We are probably not what you expect, and you will probably be pleasantly surprised.

You don't need to belong to our synagogue to get a seat.

Payment is never required to attend any of our High Holiday services. Your donations are greatly appreciated – and we can only thrive on your support – but it's not a condition of joining.
You won't have any trouble following along. Our services are conducted in English and Hebrew. I offer running commentary, insights and instructions in English, so we can always be “on the same page.”
My sermons are relevant, humorous, and if I do my job right - meaningful. You may even be thinking about them after the services. This may lead to a lively conversation. Or even a spirited debate. Imagine that.

Children are welcome. The more the better. We want them to have a great experience too! Most of the people you'll meet at Chabad aren't Orthodox. If fact, I don’t like the label orthodox. Nor do I like the label Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Jewish Renewal, or any label for that matter. We are all family, that’s what matters.

Hey, you might even enjoy the services! Don't worry. What happens at Chabad, stays at Chabad. We're a friendly congregation. If you're new to our services, be prepared - someone will make you feel welcome. There are people who join us to pray. There are people who join us to schmooze and to make new friends. There are people who come for the food (I admit, I am one of them!). There are some who join for no reason at all (must be a soul thing). For whatever reason you come, we're good with that.

We do not judge. I don’t judge what you wear; please don’t judge me for what I wear!

Chabad is not a particular branch of Judaism, but a basic philosophy embracing all Jews on their level, regardless of background, affiliation, level of observance or financial capabilities.

Now that you know a little bit about us, you may find yourself asking, "What do you actually believe?" Good question. We ask it of ourselves often. We believe that light dispels darkness. We believe labels are for clothing, not people. We believe that Judaism should bring people together, not keep them apart. Our differences are opportunities for learning and growth. We believe that helping to bring out the best in others leads to bringing out the best in ourselves. We believe in acts of kindness and maintaining a healthy sense of humor. We believe in emphasizing the joys – not the “oys” – of Judaism. We’re big on the joy thing. If you won't try it, you won't know what you are missing.

So try it, and see for yourself how sweet it is! We saved a seat for you. Free. And, as always, our pleasure! Visit us online at or give us a call at 845-782-2770.

I look forward to spending the High Holidays with you and your family. Best wishes for a Shanah Tovah!

Sincerely, Rabbi Pesach Burston To see our High Holiday services and programs, visit

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