When Rabbi Avremi and Bracha Slavaticki relayed plans to open a new Jewish facility in Decatur, friends in Sandy Springs had mixed reactions. While some were enthusiastic about the prospect of blasting Jewish energy into the area, others were stumped about the location.
“Decatur is not a place that likes big buildings and institutions, it is family- and community-oriented,” the Chabad rabbi said in a phone interview. “Our feeling is that there’s room – and a need – for Decatur to have its own Jewish presence.”
Decatur and Avondale Estates, located directly east on College Avenue, are tight-knit communities with a population of around 1,500 Jews, according to the rabbi.
“We have been received very warmly and enthusiastically by both the local population and government officials at Decatur’s city hall,” Bracha Slavaticki wrote in an email to the AJT.
An urban community, Decatur streets tout bike lanes and encourage eco-friendly commuting. Children walk to school and residents use MARTA to commute to midtown and downtown, rather than sit in traffic on busy DeKalb Avenue, a main corridor of Intown Atlanta.
As the founders of Chai Decatur, the Slavatickis have a vision for a one-stop Jewish shop. While building Jewish community through Shabbat dinners, events, religious services, and networking, they plan to secure a permanent location during the next six to eight months.
“Our vision is to offer every single Jewish service in Decatur: A synagogue, Jewish preschool, holiday programming and more. No one should leave the city for anything [Jewish],” Avremi Slavaticki said.
Chai Decatur joined Little Shop of Stories, a beloved children’s bookstore in Decatur Square, for a Chanukah book event on Nov. 18. They are also working with PJ Library to bring programming to the area. Next, Chai Decatur plans to hold Tots Shabbat on Friday, Dec. 14, at Decatur Recreation Center and, in February, is hosting 100 residents for dinner at an event dubbed Shabbat 100.
“Lots of locals are excited about Chai Decatur and have helped with seed money. Eventually, we will be locally funded,” the rabbi said.
He spent his childhood in Antwerp, Belgium, and has lived around the world. His wife hails from New Orleans, La. They have three children under the age of five who attend Chaya Mushka preschool in Sandy Springs.