In that time, Chabad Mill Valley founders Rabbi Hillel and Chana Scop have put down deep roots in the community, raising their 10 children near Tam Junction and offering an array of programs and services, including monthly Shabbos dinners, morning Torah study and myriad classes, from Hebrew reading and gourmet Kosher cooking to Chassidic philosophy classes.
Despite those deep roots, Chabad Mill Valley has never had a physical space to call home.
The Scop family opened Brooklyn, a Project of Chabad Mill Valley, in late October in the space formerly occupied by True Botanicals in the downtown strip of shops on Miller Ave. near the Depot Plaza that also includes Boo Koo, The Rug Establishment and Studio Velo.
In doing so, they’ve put Chabad Mill Valley on the map, quite literally.
“This has been a 20-year dream of ours,” Chana Scop says. “Our biggest challenge has been how to get out into the community more, which is why we’re so happy to be able to open this space.”
The space is part retail shop, part community gathering place, and the Scops were inspired by the fact that, other than the Jewish Community Center in San Rafael, no other space like what they’ve created exists in Marin.
The retail component includes an array of Judaica, including books for both children and adults, kitchen and housewares like silver Shabbat candlesticks, cups and charity boxes, custom table linens, kippas – “everything that’s connected to the Sabbath,” Scop says, noting that along with those “evergreen” products, they’ll roll out inventory in advance of every Jewish holiday, such as Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, among others. That includes weekly deliveries of challah, the special, usually braided bread that is typically eaten on occasions like the Sabbath and major Jewish holidays. Brooklyn’s challah comes from the Frena kosher bakery in San Francisco. The shop also has a little coffee and tea stand.
The new space begins a new chapter in a journey the Scops began generations ago. Hillel and Chana Scop grew up in non-observant Jewish homes in Johannesburg, South Africa and Toronto, Canada, respectively. They both were drawn to Chabad while “on a journey for something, something more, something Jewish, something meaningful,” Chana Scop says.
Those experiences turned into a vision they had to open a Chabad center, one of more than 4,000 worldwide, and they chose to do so first in San Rafael for three years and later in Mill Valley. “When we moved out here, we wanted to give back to the community in the way Chabad had connected us to Judaism for the first time in our youth,” Scop says.
As Chabad Mill Valley evolved over the years, they thought about opening a space but it was too difficult financially, so they regularly rented space for events as needed. This move was made possible by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
“We believe that everything happens in its right time, and we’re so excited,” she says. “We’ve fundraised over the years to be able to live here and be an asset to the community. And while we’ve thought in the past to do a capital campaign, we decided to go smaller and take a lease for this new concept. It came together very quickly.”
“We’ve been saying that ‘it’s not a store, it’s a story,’ and that story is about building community,” she adds.
The 411: Brooklyn, a Project of Chabad Mill Valley, is open at 29 Miller Avenue in downtown Mill Valley. 415.336.3055. Hours: Mon.-Thu., 10am-3pm (closed 12:30-1:30), Friday 1-2:30pm and Sunday 11am-1pm. Closed Saturdays. MORE INFO.