New synagogue opens in city
Rabbi Avorhom (left) and Ayelet Rimler, who recently established The Chabad of Plattsburgh, a new synagogue, finish erecting an electric menorah in Trinity Park Tuesday evening during the first day of Hanukah.

PLATTSBURGH — The digital-age menorah marking Hanukkah in Trinity Park is a first for a new synagogue entering the City of Plattsburgh's communal life.

The Chabad of Plattsburgh was established four months ago by Rabbi Avorhom and Ayelet Rimler at 2 Saratoga Court in the city.

Its roots trace back to 18th-century Russia and the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, influenced by the teachings of Rabbi Yisreal Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), a Jewish mystic considered the founder of Hasidic Judaism.


Rabbi Rimler was born and raised in Australia and immigrated to New York state years ago. He and his wife relocated here from Rockland County.

“We moved here to Plattsburgh because the Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the leader of the Jewish people, had a vision that wherever there are Jews, to open up a Chabad House to cater to those Jews,” Rimler said.

The centuries-old Jewish presence in the city includes locals, transplants, visitors as well as students, faculty and staff at SUNY Plattsburgh and Clinton Community College.

“Chabad is really a home away from home for all types of people,” Rimler said. “We cater to anyone.

"However they are, we accept them like they are. We are nonjudgmental, and that’s what we do. That’s why Chabad’s success around the world is now around 4,000 centers. It caters to every single Jew, wherever they are.”


The Chabad of Plattsburgh sponsors Friday night dinners and holiday events, such as the menorah lighting that includes a special celebration 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21, at Trinity Park.

Services are held at sundown on Friday evenings and 10 a.m. Saturdays.


Chabad is a Hebrew acronym for the three intellectual faculties: chochmah (wisdom), binah (comprehension) and da’at (knowledge).

“Chabad, to put in a short form, is the anatomy of the soul,” Rimler said.

“The body, you can say, is divided up into 10 parts. There are three intellectual parts to it, and the seven emotions.

"The emotion of love; kindness you know to give; severity would be holding back.

"A child runs into the street, you would give him a slap. That’s the severity part of your attributes of that emotion.”

Wisdom is the ah-ha moment.

"Wisdom is like the light bulb when you’re thinking, ah,” Rimler said.

“Then the next part is the understanding. It's when you think about that idea and you try to bring it down so you can actually work on it and implement it.

"And the third part is loosely translated as knowledge is the actual connection when you are actually going to do something about it and connect it with your emotions.”


In Stalinist Russia, many Chabad practitioners were executed or exiled to Siberia for counter-revolutionary activities.

“He (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad and a student of Tov) basically said instead of working from down below and trying to get up, work from up and go down below,” Rimler said.

“Work on your intellect, and automatically your emotions will be in sync. (With) Chabad the whole idea was to work on your self and try to make your self better. That’s going into kabbalistic meaning behind Chabad.”

Across Lake Champlain, Chabads are established in Burlington and Brattleboro, Vt.

“Chabad does whatever they need to do in order to ensure a Jewish future, especially after a Holocaust, what was,” Rimler said.

“We try to do the exact opposite and build Jewish life and enlighten Jewish life and make it brighter — bring the beauty of Judaism to our fellow man and woman.”

Robin Caudell, Press-Republican Email: Twitter@RobinCaudell