Chabad establishes new house in Bloomington-Normal


Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois has established its newest branch, Chabad of Bloomington/Normal, under the direction of Rabbi Chaim Moshe and Rochel Telsner. The Telsners will serve Illinois State University.  

Normal, which sits 130 perfectly flat miles from Chicago, will now be the fourth city in central and southern Illinois to have a Chabad House, following Champaign (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Peoria (Bradly University), and Carbondale (Southern Illinois University). 

According to Regional Director Rabbi Meir Moscowitz, the appointment coincides with the 40th anniversary of the opening of the first Chabad House in Illinois. In the four decades since, Chabad has opened nearly 50 centers throughout the state including 10 at local college campuses.




It’s Official: There’s a Chabad House in Normal, Illinois


Couple moves into ‘colorful’ college town to serve Jewish students

By Menachem Posner,   |   September 27, 2016 The Telsner children send a clear message: Home is now Illinois State University.The Telsner children send a clear message: Home is now Illinois State University.

Surrounded by an endless sea of golden cornfields, Normal, Ill. (and its sister city of Bloomington) has a zoo, a sports coliseum, state university, city hall, airport, and now, a brand-new Chabad House.

“I’m more than excited about this,” says Jacob Levin, a native of Northbrook, Ill., who also serves as vice president and secretary of the local Hillel House. “We’ve been talking about some of the services that Chabad can offer, and I’m really looking forward to being involved.”

Rabbi Chaim and Rochel Telsner are relocating with their three children to Normal, where they will serve the Jewish student population at Illinois State University (ISU), founded in 1857.

There are as many as 1,000 Jewish students at ISU; Levin estimates that about 5 percent of them are engaged in Hillel activities. The school has a total population of roughly 20,000 students.

The town took its unusual (or perhaps usual) name from the university, which was then called a “Normal School,” the standard term for teachers’ colleges.

Despite its less-than-exciting ring, Rabbi Telsner, who is originally from London, notes that he and his wife “really took to the vibe of the place, which is nice and colorful—just what you’d like to see in a college town.”

Normal (which sits 130 perfectly flat miles from Chicago) will now be the fourth city in Central and Southern Illinois to have a Chabad House, following Champaign (U of I), Peoria (Bradley University) and Carbondale (SIU).


Rabbi Chaim Telsner has info (and items) at the ready about programs on campus.


‘Getting the Word Out’

The Telsners were previously CTeen directors in Rochel’s hometown of Skokie, Ill., and have extensive experience providing guidance and programing for young adults.

The Telsner family“We are very grateful to Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky [vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement], Chabad on Campus International and the Rohr Family Foundation for helping us make this new Chabad House a reality,” says Rabbi MeirMoscowitz, regional director of Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois. “My father, Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz, of blessed memory, began with one Chabad House at Northwestern University in 1978, and things have been growing exponentially ever since.”

The Telsners plan to kick off the year with a barbecue dinner that will serve as a “welcome back” event for students and a general welcome for the new Chabad. The couple hopes to be fully open for business in time for Sukkot.

With a new crop of incoming freshman, the couple has their work cut out for them.

“Our first point of business will be to get to know the students,” says Rochel Telsner. “We have lots of ideas of programs and services, but first we’ll focus on making friends and getting the word out. Everything else will follow.”