It happened fast. The old plan was tossed aside and, suddenly, Chabad of Kenosha has a new Jewish center, a $1.1 million facility and land.
After 15 years of services and events in Rabbi Tzali and Rivkie Wilschanski’s home, with some larger events held at a hotel venue, Chabad of Kenosha closed on the facility, at 6520 67th St., Kenosha, on Sept. 30, 2022.
An abrupt switch
The new facility, with modern spaces and rich landscaping, has Tzali’s head spinning, because it’s an abrupt switch from the prior plan. The plan, for several years, had been to spend around $1.5-2 million on a build – current construction prices raised that to more like $3 million and the rabbi was struggling with what to do about it.
Then, in August, Rivkie noticed the listing for the 67th Street property. Her husband was at a summer camp in Michigan, and she called him in the middle of the night. “I saw this and woke him up at 1 a.m.,” she said. He made an offer within days, without visiting it.
Now, Chabad of Kenosha has got both the 67th Street property and land it intended to build on that must now be sold.
The rabbi calls it “beyond humbling” and “a shock.”
“You can imagine,” Tzali said. “I’m invested into a property for over four years, with public meetings with Pleasant Prairie; with in front of the Commission … with the lawyers, sitting with advisory boards, architects, different engineering firms, all that you have a dream you’re working on for a very long time, and basically was swept away.
“What just happened? It’s like a shocker … within a week to be under contract to a place that’s bigger, built to a standard that … I would certainly never afford.”
How to use it?
The building was originally created by a Kenosha businessman who wanted it to serve as a quiet, leafy meeting place and inspiration for small business.
The 10,045 square foot building may be less expensive than the originally planned build, but it still requires a fundraising campaign, which Chabad of Kenosha has already launched. The Wilschanskis plan for the building to house a synagogue, Hebrew school classrooms, a social hall, kosher kitchen, library, indoor and outdoor play area, mikvah, guest suites and 6,000 feet of community space.
The congregation is part of the Chabad model of serving all, including secular Jews. Rivkie said she hopes to use the space not just as a Jewish center, but also for the wider community. She envisions support groups, an annual police and firefighter’s brunch, and other events there.
Rivkie said she’s appreciated the support from Rabbi Dena Feingold – spiritual leader of the Reform Beth Hillel Temple in Kenosha – who attended at least one public meeting as a friend to the Chabad congregation, for the construction that will now never happen.
“The whole time that we were trying to do other stuff, knocking on doors … and just trying to find the blessing; the whole time, God was preparing something else,” Rivkie said. “I just feel so humbled and grateful.”
* * *
About the property
- 6250 67th St., Kenosha, was set to close on Sept. 30, 2022.
- Gardens, walking paths and “Zen” sitting area.
- Ground floor, 6264 square feet; second floor, 3781 square feet.
- 1.5 acres of land, with 40 surface parking spots.