BROOKFIELD – Chabad of Waukesha-Brookfield has purchased, renovated and reopened a former Trinity Broadcasting Network building, at 1275 N. Barker Road in Brookfield.
The new center allows Chabad of Waukesha-Brookfield, which first opened to the public in 2012, to move out of its rabbi’s house. The new center, with 8,400 square feet, is twice the size of the prior space.
“It’s right by the highway so it’s easy access for a lot of Jews who are on this side of town,” said Rabbi Levi Brook, spiritual leader for Chabad of Waukesha-Brookfield.
“The Jewish community that we’re serving is so wide ranging,” Brooks said. “The biggest challenge of serving Jewish people in this area is that it’s very not condensed.”
Community member Simon Bronner said it brings people together to experience Judaism and Jewish identity. “None of us live in a Jewish neighborhood,” he added.
Letter to Trinity
Chabad of Waukesha-Brookfield purchased the building in August 2019 at “a fairly amazing price,” Brook said, after the Brooklyn-born rabbi wrote a letter to the Trinity Broadcasting Network board noting that he represents a nonprofit that spreads monotheism.
Chabad of Waukesha-Brookfield is affiliated with Chabad-Lubavitch, an Orthodox Hassidic movement that focuses worldwide on outreach to other Jews.
“They really liked the idea that their building would be sold to a Jewish organization,” Brook said.
Brook said his house will always be a welcome place for all, but that the new facility will allow him to do more.
“Obviously, it should be a hub of light for the whole community,” he added. “We actually have enough room to social distance our services. It’s a fairly large sanctuary.”
After obtaining an occupancy permit in December 2019, renovations lasted through the summer, Brook said. The ark was still under construction, with Jerusalem stone and thanks in part to the skills of a local volunteer, at Chronicle press time.
Trinity Broadcasting Network – which describes itself as the world’s largest, faith-based Christian television network – had one large room carpeted from floor to ceiling, for sound purposes. That former studio is now the Chabad of Waukesha-Brookfield sanctuary.
“We really transformed the room,” Brook said. The carpeting is gone. Stylish lighting has been added to the ceiling, thanks to the work of Jon Adams of Twilight Solutions, who is a member of the community, and interior designer Sarah Boardman, Brook said.
Community member Brenda Wagner of Eagle said she’s happy with the new building and particularly happy with the people.
“It’s a unity place. Rabbi Brook is very open, as is his wife, Fraidy,” Wagner said. “I’m in a mixed marriage and they’re very warm and caring to my husband, who is not Jewish.”
The center held in-person High Holy Day services in the new building, with social distancing and a portable ark.
“I think it made me feel engaged in a way that virtual does not,” said community member Bronner. “I trust what the rabbi and the rebbetzin are doing.”