Amidst increased Antisemitism, Jacksonville’s Southside Jewish Community dedicates new outdoor space

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — On Sunday, June 4 at 4:30 p.m., Chabad of Southside will celebrate the Jewish center’s nearly two decades of growth and communal service with a dedication of a multipurpose community gathering space.

The Chabad Center’s new “Model Family Terrace by the Lake” is a scenic venue that will host social and religious functions, life cycle events, and celebrations of all kinds. The dedication ceremony will include musical performances, addresses by donors and community leaders, and catering by award winning Kosher BBQ chef.


As more and more families join the Jacksonville community, and despite a recent spike in anti-Semitic incidents in Jacksonville, demand for a multipurpose space to host events and gatherings increased. The Southside’s Jewish community has seen rising in Jewish involvement and engagement under the leadership of Rabbi Shmuli Novack and his wife Chana and family.

Located near UNF and the popular St Johns Town Center, The Finker-Frenkel Chabad Center has serviced the area’s hundreds of college students and the larger Jacksonville community since opening its doors in 2006. In 2019, the Chabad opened a 12,000 sq-ft facility featuring a student lounge and game room, a prayer sanctuary, the acclaimed Ganeinu preschool, the Ahava Kosher café and the Malnik gallery for Judaic art.

“During the pandemic we had a real need for an outdoor space to host our Shabbat dinners and events in a safe and accessible manner,” said Novack. “And as communal involvement has surged following the pandemic, the new Terrace by the Lake will mark a giant step forward in Southside’s Jewish renaissance.”

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Dr. Lazar Finker of the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, who transformed Jewish life on the Southside through his commitment to the Chabad Center, will be honored with the Jewish Visionary Award and will serve as the program’s chair.

The event will recognize renowned local physician Dr. Dmitriy Model, his wife Elena and their two children, who were instrumental in creating the space. Dr. Model, who is also vice-president of Avecina Medical, a leading urgent care provider in north and north-central Florida, emphasized his excitement for the new outdoor space.

“Building this terrace was a significant undertaking, and I’m extremely happy that the space and its beautiful views are already bringing joy to so many children, families and college students.”

Overlooking a picturesque lake which attracts birds, turtles, fish and the occasional otter, the Model Family Terrace has already been used for Bar Mitzvahs, Passover Seders, fireside gatherings and other outdoor events that would not have been possible during the Covid restrictions.

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Replete with ample seating and a state-of-the-art barbecue facility, the new space fosters a sense of togetherness, tranquility and a warm, inclusive environment for all to enjoy and connect with one another.

The dedication event will feature a musical performance by renowned singer songwriter Paul Toshner AKA ‘Baby Tosh’ and award winning Kosher BBQ pitmaster Warren Rockmacher, the “Godfather of Kosher Barbecue,” whose smoked brisket has numerous BBQ competitions including 1st Place at the recent Railyard BBQ Challenge here in Jacksonville.

The event follows the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which celebrates the divine revelation Mount Sinai and the giving of the 10 commandments. “As we mark Shavuot where the Jews came together to receive the Torah, what better way to uplift our entire community than by coming together to dedicate the new Model Family Terrace on the Lake,” said Novack.

This year brings added meaning as Jewish communities worldwide celebrate the year of Hakhel or “Gathering”, a once-in-seven-years Jewish tradition promoting coming together to learn and grow.

To RSVP to the event or to include a dedication to our honorees, visit SouthsideChabad.com/benefit

For more information, visit SouthsideChabad.com/benefit

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