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Eve Oziel Enjoying a day out at annual community Sukkot holiday carnival

Founders and Leaders Rabbi Menachem Block and Rivkie Block to be honored

Chabad of Plano/Collin County invites the community to celebrate its 30th Anniversary at its Annual Gala, “Going Forward with Strength,” Sunday, March 27, 5:30 p.m. dinner and 7:30 p.m. program, at the Eisemann Center in Richardson.  Rabbi Menachem and Rivkie Block will be honored for their three decades of service as the founders and leaders of Chabad of Plano/Collin County.

“When my wife, Rivkie, and I arrived in Plano from Brooklyn with two young children 30 years ago, we knew we had a big job ahead,” said Rabbi Menachem Block. “At that time Plano housed a population of 100,000 people with a fledgling Jewish community. Our goal was to fill that void, and with the help of so many loyal friends and supporters, we have been successful. In fact, we are outgrowing our current structure! Our goal is to move forward with strength taking the wisdom and relationships we have gained to make the next chapter of Chabad of Plano/Collin County even stronger.”

Upon arriving in Plano, the Blocks immediately went to work with a focus on four major areas: holiday celebrations, Hebrew school, summer day camps, and adult education. They organized events, including Plano’s first menorah lighting with 50 people standing outside the Jewish Community Center preschool. Longtime friends and supporters Florence and Howard Shapiro lit the first candle – a symbol of miraculous deliverance – as her parents, both Holocaust survivors, looked on. From 1992 to 2000, the Blocks worked out of their home holding Hebrew school, services, and classes. A new level of growth came in 1998 when supporter Abe Lang purchased the lot for the future Lang Chabad Center. Once completed in 2000, the 13,000 sq. ft. Chabad building on Park Boulevard gave Jews of Plano their own synagogue, a Hebrew School, Camp Gan Israel, a Jewish library, holiday celebrations, and eventually a preschool, called Gan Gani, touching thousands of people over the course of 30 years.

“On this 30th anniversary of Chabad, we will pay our respect to the two individuals whose spirit and enthusiasm have served as an inspiration to us all,” said Dr. Mark Geller, a longtime friend of the couple and supporter of Chabad of Plano. “Their work has not only benefited us individually but has also sent ripples into the community at large with benefits for people of all faiths and ethnicities.”

As the first rabbi to call Plano home, Rabbi Block along with his wife, Rivkie, were instrumental in taking Judaism into the streets, making Jewish life present in Plano in a public and permanent way. However, according to the Blocks, their greatest accomplishment is their eight children and twelve grandchildren, including four married children who live in the area and are leading Chabad centers of their own in Legacy West, Frisco, Allen, McKinney, and Rockwall.

“When you remain humble, you see people differently,” added Rivkie Block. “You see them through the lens of what you can bring to the relationship. And the blessings we have received in Plano are infinitely greater than anything that we have given.”

“This is a couple who continue to put people first, and they have grown Chabad into a thriving, inspirational community – a community that has expanded through the leadership of their children,” added Howard Shapiro, a longtime friend and Chabad supporter. “Join us on March 27 for what is sure to be an extraordinary celebration.”

For information about Chabad of Plano/Collin County’s 30th Anniversary Gala, visit www.chabadplano.org/event, call (972) 596-8270 or email connect@chabadplano.org . Sponsorships are available and donations are welcome. 

Chabad of Plano/Collin County is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational and social programs for families and children across Collin County.  www.chabadplano.org

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