When my friend Eric came to San Diego, I took him to the SDSU Chabad. The large house across the street from University on Fraternity row was packed with over 100 college students. Long tables line the room with a a Torah ark at the front. The strange sight overwhelmed Eric as he saw students chanting and singing songs in Hebrew standing up on chairs with their arms. Not all students were Jewish as all are welcome, but everyone could feel the pride and love for the history and traditions.
When a Jewish friend arrives in San Diego, I always try to take them to see Rabbi Chalom because I know that whether they are religious or not, he will stretch their understanding of what it is to be Jewish.
Rabbi Chalom heads the San Diego State Chabad and he is the type of Rabbi who can speak with you on all sorts of topics, from politics to modern physics. He understands students and what they need. He invites them for Hookah and talks by Football players, not to talks by Orthodox scholars. He provides them with a community and understanding of who they are without judging their Jewishness.
At the same time, he provides a community for the Jewish families in the area, especially the Russian Jews who are generally less observant than American Jews, who are more conservative than reform Jews but are not as conservative as Orthodox Jews.
He was the Rabbi who really helped me to understand my Judaism and helped me find my way to my history and culture, my birthright.
Watch my interview with Rabbi Chalom here: