The Drexel Chabad is about to get a lot bigger.
Thanks to a generous donation by GoPuff Co-CEO’s Rafael Ilishayev and Yakir Gola, the Drexel Chabad was able to buy the building next door to their current location of 3507 Baring Street, allowing them to expand their operations to fit the growing number of Jewish students at Drexel.
In the past few years the number of Jewish Drexel Dragons, has risen, resulting in both the Chabad and Hillel on campus struggling to find space. To welcome the increasing numbers, Hillel received a new home in the new Raymond G. Perelman Center for Jewish Life when it opened in October 2016.
The Drexel Chabad however, was still having difficulty trying to fit an increasingly large number of students. Weekly Shabbat dinners regularly receive 30 to 50 students, in the large single-family home they have occupied for a number of years.
“Having a larger space will be able to accommodate the growing number of Jewish students at Drexel and all of the programs that are offered by the Chabad Student Group [many of the programs at Chabad are organized and run by a student life recognized club],”said Chabad Co-Director Rabbi Chaim Goldstein.
“With the new space, we hope for the Chabad House to be an even more welcoming and warm environment for students of all backgrounds to come and enjoy one of many new features that the large beautiful space will have to offer,” he continued.
This will be Rabbi Chaim and his wife Moussia’s tenth year here at Drexel since they established the Chabad. This year also marks seventieth year since the final spiritual leader of the Chabad Lubavitch movement, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, took over leadership of the movement in 1951. It was Schneerson who championed sending families to campuses to serve Jewish students around the world.
Rabbi Chaim isn’t the only one excited about the new house however, Drexel University President Fry had this to say of the new house.
“The addition of a new facility for Drexel Chabad as it begins its 10th year reflects the vitality and growth of this community on our campus, and I congratulate Chabad upon receiving this generous gift from goPuff founders and alumni Rafael Ilishayev and Yakir Gola,” said Fry. “Going forward, Drexel Student Life will maintain its strong relationship with Chabad leadership and continue to support them, their community, and our students to ensure their success, including assistance to Drexel Chabad in thinking through the best use of the new Chabad property in support of their community.”
While the exact amount of the donation from the GoPuff CEO’s is unknown, the large house was valued at almost $1 million by the city of Philadelphia this year.
Based on how the last house was purchased by the Rohr Family of New York paying the down payment and the first year of mortgage payments, it can be assumed that with a 1 million dollar home price, bought with an assumed mortgage rate of 3.5 percent, that the down payment was around $100,000.
This makes the donation even more generous considering just last week Ilishayev and Gola pledged $25,000 to establish a new scholarship for the close school of entrepreneurship.
It hasn’t been decided if the current building will be demolished and replaced or simply gut renovated.
“There’s a Drexel architecture student who is working closely with us to come up with ideas of design and architecture for the new space. All students are welcome to submit their ideas [for] what the new space should offer. We are excited to hear what students want,”said Rabbi Chaim.
Additionally, there will soon be a big fundraising drive to pay for the construction costs and there are many naming opportunities still available.