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Shabbos House LA Welcomes Young Jews for Shabbat and Holidays

During the initial stages of the pandemic, young Jews were suddenly faced with a new challenge: They weren’t sure how they would celebrate Shabbat.
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September 1, 2022
Avi and Miquela Climo and their daughter. Courtesy of Avi Climo

During the initial stages of the pandemic, young Jews were suddenly faced with a new challenge: They weren’t sure how they would celebrate Shabbat. Many of them didn’t know how to cook since they were used to going to their families’ homes for meals. Would they have to spend the day alone? 

Avi Climo, a Chabad Hasidic Jew in Pico-Robertson, along with his wife Miquela, had an idea. They would provide young Jews with kosher food and fun experiences on Shabbat and the holidays. 

“Some of these young people didn’t have a place to go, and for the most part, Shabbos House LA was a non-judgmental space, where everyone knew they could go for something to eat,” Chabad Israel Center Rabbi Asher Yemini said.

Even as pandemic-related restrictions have lifted, the Climos have continued to host Jews on Shabbat.  “It’s a place that’s welcoming [and] inviting,” said Avi. “If someone needs a meal during the week or wants a place to go for Shabbos, my wife and I have been blessed with the opportunity to provide that for young Jews in the community.”

So far, Avi and Miquela have engaged over 500 Jews of all ages and backgrounds, hosting more than 150 Shabbat dinners and lunches, festivals, holiday get-togethers and seders. Shabbos House LA has also served approximately 4,500 free kosher meals. While it’s not an official Chabad house, the Climos also offer Torah and Hasidic classes, celebrations with live music, mitzvah campaigns and one-on-one counseling.

When Jews in their 20s and 30s visit Shabbos House LA, located near S. Bedford and Pickford Streets, they enjoy challah, cholent, singing and good company. They experience a homey, late-night vibe or an afternoon schmooze. Most importantly, they spend quality time with the Climos, who are devoted to Yiddishkeit — and each other.

“It’s important that young Jews, especially singles, see what an observant couple looks like,” Climo told the Journal. “It’s something they aspire to be, married with happiness – to have a kosher marriage – and they see how this is a recipe for success for a Jew.”  

“It’s important that young Jews, especially singles, see what an observant couple looks like.” -Avi Climo

Because of growing demand for their services, Shabbos House LA recently launched a campaign via causematch.com to raise funds for the High Holy Days. Donated funds will support meals for those in need. The Climos are attempting to move to a larger apartment to host its programs, and the campaign is financing that effort. 

Avi hopes the future headquarters of Shabbos House LA will be located in the Pico-Robertson/Crestview area and will be able to accommodate more than 100 Shabbat guests.  If all goes as planned, there will be spaces to learn and lounge, an extensive Jewish library, regularly scheduled live music, women’s classes and a meditation garden. 

“We’d live there and we’d also use it for these functions,” Climo said.

As of press time, the Shabbos House campaign had raised more than $27,000 toward a $300,000 goal.

The husband and wife team are immersed in the local observant community. The couple are ba’alei teshuvah — meaning Jews who returned to Orthodoxy or have become Orthodox for the first time. After briefly dating, the two were married in the summer of 2019 and then embarked on their honeymoon. Each Shabbat, they stayed at a different Lubavitch-Chabad home across the United States. 

The hospitality of those who hosted them inspired the couple to do the same, ensuring any Jew who wanted a home for Shabbatwould have one.

Avi said, “It’s a place where every Jew is welcomed and loved.”

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