Help Us Burn the Mortgage!
By Mushka Katzman

Many are apt to hover protectively over their bank accounts and live frugally during challenging economic times such as these.  Yet, Milton and Marsha Kleinberg and Phillip and Terri Schrager, are showing that the opposite is true. Both the Kleinbergs and the Schragers are dedicated to helping Chabad burn their high-interest mortgage. The campaign, chaired by Milton and Marsha Kleinberg, was launched on October 12th with a goal to have the $200,000 mortgage paid off by the end of the year.  The campaign has introduced Chabad to many members of the Omaha community who choose to commit their hard-earned savings even when the economy is so uncertain. As of press date, $30,000 has been collected for this drive. To speed up the effectiveness of this goal,  the Schragers  have pledged to match donations exclusively given towards the mortgage fund of Chabad House to double the value of all the money donated up to $50,000 . For those interested in sound investments, this is truly great bang for your buck!!
Purchased in the spring of 1998, the Chabad House has become the hub of Chabad's many statewide activities. A dozen classes for folks of all ages and stages take place at the Chabad House each week. The building also serves as the home base for the Camp Gan Israel summer and winter program and houses a kosher food pantry serving the metro area. The Chabad House hosts various support groups , and serves as a home away from home for many students and travelers. Annual holiday bashes and community-wide social events happen there too. Statewide public Menorah lightings, crisis counseling, roving rabbis and other social services for the general community are dispatched from within the four walls of the property on 120th and Shirley streets.
Rabbi Mendel and Shani Katzman established the Chabad House in Nebraska in the fall of 1986 when they arrived in Omaha as the emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.  Chabad House seeks to improve the world though education, action, and loving kindness; to help realize a moral, G‑dly world in which honesty, integrity, a sense of meaning and purpose, respect, responsibility for one another, knowledge, security, and peace prevail.  
A quote from the mission statement reads: "We recognize the innate goodness in humankind and seek to inspire and empower all people to maximize their potential on life's journey - with joy, passion, and enthusiasm.  We work with all denominations, cultures, economic status, and faiths and reach out to help rather than wait to be called upon."
The Chabad House has raised Jewish awareness throughout Omaha by its mere existence. For ten years, Jews and non-Jews have been intrigued by the outdoor menorah, the large sukkah, the happily frolicking children, and have in-turn discovered and recovered their soul.  " We have personally seen the impressive work that Chabad and the Katzmans have done for our community and felt moved to help out with this worthy project", said Nancy Schlessinger, who along with her husband Joel is part of the team to bring this campaign to fruition.  "There are so many unseen things that Chabad does on a daily basis that go unnoticed but are truly important.  For this and many other reasons, we want to make sure they have the ability to continue their important mission."  Phil Wolf expressed his sentiments regarding what Chabad House has done for this community.  "We were raised to equate Jewish education with Holocaust education which made it difficult for young Americans to identify with Judaism.  Chabad has taught a relevance, a joy, and offers a platform for discussion."  He added, "I am more comfortable and interested in identifying myself as a Jew."
Milton Kleinberg launched this campaign because, "I would like to see the important work of Chabad continue unhampered", he said.  "A mortgage for a non-profit organization has an extremely high interest rate.  Dollars that would be used constructively to help our community in so many ways are being wasted on interest to the bank", he explained.
Rabbi Katzman expressed his sincere appreciation to the Kleinbergs for initiating this project and to the Schragers for stepping up with such great generosity.
For more information or to participate in this campaign contact contact Marsha Kleinberg at <> or Rabbi M. Mendel Katzman at