Rabbi Mendy Rimler, outreach director at the Chabad Jewish Student Center at Arizona State University, wrote the following article about a new student recreation center at ASU and what that could mean for Jewish life at the university in the coming years.
The Chabad Jewish Student Center at Arizona State University recently marked a milestone as construction began on a new, state-of-the-art student recreation center.
The former barren backyard will soon be home to a host of student-oriented features, including a state-of-the-art basketball court, volleyball court, outdoor barbecue and fire pit, and patio seating. The recreational area will also boast a student lounge area with surround sound system, a misting cooling system and a large outdoor screen.
A multi-phase project, the yard is the first of a three-year, $300,000 much-needed upgrade of Chabad at ASU’s over 10,000-square-foot facility and grounds. The next project will be a new exterior building façade, along with extensive landscaping. The third stage will be an upgrade of heating and air-conditioning systems and a modern kosher kitchen.
The recreation center and planned upgrades are a result of the generosity of Paradise Valley residents Warren G. and Judith A. Levenbaum. Warren Levenbaum is a partner of Levenbaum Trachtenberg, an injury law firm based in Phoenix with offices throughout the western U.S. He’s also the founder and CEO of the American Association of Motorcycle Injury Lawyers.
“This is a labor of love, and we’re so happy to give back to the Jewish community,” said Warren Levenbaum. “The reason we’re doing this is because we believe in supporting Chabad’s work with young Jewish students, and the yard is vital to ensuring Chabad’s success in connecting young people to our community.” The Levenbaums are involved with the planning, implementation and financing of the project every step of the way. The new yard will be called the Law Tigers Outdoor Recreation Center.
“With a fully comprehensive center for sports-minded students and a beautiful space for entertaining through social events and outdoor educational classes, we will be able to expand our programming more than ever before,” explained Rabbi Shmuel Tiechtel, co-director at Chabad at ASU together his wife, Chana. The Tiechtels founded Chabad at ASU in 2003.
The Levenbaums’ generous involvement in the multi-phase project has a broad impact for ASU’s 71,946 students. “Warren and Judy have a tremendous appreciation for Jewish life and their vision, leadership and philanthropy embody the sort of depth of character that others can take an example from,” said Danny Goldberg, a sophomore at ASU and the president of AEPi fraternity.
On March 20, the Levenbaums broke ground at the recreation center, together with students and guests. The recreation center is scheduled for completion by Passover, and a grand opening event and ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated to take place at the start of the fall semester.
Sarah Rimler, Chabad at ASU program director, is overseeing the project. Inspired by the Levenbaums’ attention to quality and detail, she has been intent on creating an outdoor area that is at once highly functional and attractive for college students.
“For the sports court, we chose a company that creates the same courts for NBA player’s homes,” she explains. Around the perimeter of the yard, beautifully landscaped rock borders and native Southwestern plants will set a calm tone, and flowering vines will twist up the walls. These touches, said Rimler, will “lend an idyllic atmosphere for events and casual hangouts.”
Jacob Lille, 20, is working on a degree in political science and justice studies. Together with Yael Domb, a nursing major, the two students helped guide the project since its inception.
“I have always dreamed that Chabad on campus could be a true Jewish community on campus,” Lille said. “Chabad at ASU now has one of the most dynamic and innovative synagogues in the entire country. I greatly appreciate the generosity of Warren and Judy Levenbaum for making this dream a reality.
“With this new yard, I believe that Jewish life at ASU is about to change forever.”