To honor his family, a Dunwoody man has helped Brookhaven’s Chabad Israeli Center build a new library.
The center, which has been in Brookhaven since 2016 and serves as a community center for Hebrew speakers and people who have moved to the area from Israel, held a grand opening for the new Hebrew Library on Aug. 28. The library will feature books for readers of all ages, all in the Hebrew language.
In an emailed statement, Rabbi Menachem Gurary – founder and rabbi for the center – said it was important that the center offer residents the opportunity to read in their own language.
“We want it to be a place for Hebrew education, classes and conferences.” he said. “A place where people can come to learn about and feel connected to Judaism and the Land of Israel.”
Executive Director Kari Sadeh echoed that sentiment.
“We really wanted it to be a place where the community can come read in their language,” Sadeh said.
Before this new renovation, Sadeh said the center had a makeshift area that served as a library. Now, the center hopes to hire a librarian and have an official library system, all thanks to donor Michael Alon.
“He’s been a member of the community since we’ve been here, very active,” Sadeh said. “He really wanted to give back in a nice, permanent way.”
A Dunwoody resident, Alon said he decided to support the library in honor of his family, particularly his oldest brother, Rabbi Yerachmiel Carmi, and his mother, Faige Tziporah Chorowsky. He said it was their idea for him to move from Israel to the United States.
“I always think of my brother and my mother,” said Alon about where he finds himself today. “I’m almost 85, and I’m very lucky.”
Alon, who is the youngest of seven and the last of his siblings alive, grew up in a poor neighborhood in Israel, he said. His father left when he was young, and his mother worked hard to provide for him and his siblings.
“My mother worked as a maid,” he said. “In those days, there were no vacuum cleaners, washing machines, or many other assistants to help you clean the house. It was really difficult, hard labor work.”
After joining the Israeli Army for about 2.5 years at the age of 17, Alon decided to leave Israel. He said that his brother was living in New Brunswick, Canada, at the time, and helped arrange for Alon to get a visa to join him.
After multiple plane trips, Alon arrived in New Brunswick in 1959. He did not know how to read, speak, or write in English, and by his own account, had very few applicable skills.
“When I left the army, I had very little skills because my background was in very religious schools,” Alon said. “We only studied religious subjects. We had no general studies.”
After a couple of weeks, his brother drove him to New York and helped him enroll in school. Later, Alon was able to graduate with a license to teach Hebrew. Years later, after he met his now wife, Etti Alon, back home in Israel, his brother married the two in a ceremony in the United States.
“If not for my brother, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Alon said of his journey to the United States all those years ago. “I had no skills, no training, I don’t know what would have happened to me.”
Alon attributes all of his success to his brother, who passed away a few years ago. Alon said that when he died, he wanted to do something to honor his brother. When he heard about the new library, he thought that sounded like the perfect opportunity.
“It’s a very important part of the community,” Alon said of the library. “That’s exactly what I want to do.”
Update: this story has been updated with a quote from Rabbi Menachem Gurary.