1981 - 2003
Center for Return was founded in May 1981 with the outreach goal of bringing Torah Judaism to Jews with little or no background.
For over 30 years, CFR maintained an office at Queens College and offered a full calendar of programs and events for Jewish college students, both on and off-campus. Over the years, additional outreach opportunities spurred at least 10 Center for Return satellite programs at other college campuses in the metropolitan New York area.
In 1983, an outreach facility, the “Bayit”, was purchased in Richmond Hill, Queens. Since then, the Bayit has hosted hundreds of events, drawing thousands of students and guests to Shabbaton weekends, Chanukah, Purim, Succos and Saturday Night-Melava Malka parties. Hundreds of individuals have been treated to “Dinner at the Rabbi’s”, and Sheva Berachos have been celebrated for scores of CFR members who have since married.
Tutorial sessions are conducted at the Bayit. The Bayit’s Chapel, where beginner’s services are held during Shabbaton weekends, offers individuals the opportunity to participate in and learn about the prayer service. Our extensive Judaica Lending Library of books and ritual articles continues to furnish an invaluable resource for anyone new to observance.
For those seeking to further explore Judaism, or who want to improve their skills to better understand Jewish texts, CFR has encouraged and directed many hundreds of individuals to take advantage of the unique study opportunities offered in Israel.
From its inception, CFR has maintained a rabbinic and programming staff under the direction of Rabbi Avrohom Kahn. The Center for Return staff has always been committed to creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and open inquiry, encouraging everyone to get involved at their own pace.
2004 - Present
CFR's Manhattan Torah Project
In September 2004, the CFR Board of Trustees recommended we expand our outreach activities to the workplace in Manhattan. They made the argument that every Monday through Friday, an estimated 500,000 Jews (1 out of every 28 Jews in the entire world!), work in Manhattan, making the “the island of Manhattan” an ideal opportunity to educate large groups of Jews.
In response to this need, in October 2004, CFR launched the Manhattan Torah Project with the formation of a class at Credit Suisse. Since then, the Center has brought Torah learning to Jewish professionals at numerous workplaces in Manhattan and currently runs TorahLunch classes at thirteen sites including: Google, Barclays, AllianceBernstein, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, American Express, Bank of America and Credit Suisse.
For many, Center for Return is a first exposure to Torah Judaism. Attending a CFR event or class appeals to so many because our sole purpose is to educate, mentor and inspire anyone with an interest in learning what it means to be Jewish.
The hallmark of all CFR events, whether a workplace setting or at the Bayit, is friendship, warmth, and intellectual honesty. Regardless of background or level of observance, CFR events allow Jews to connect with Torah and mitzvos in a non-judgmental atmosphere. We don’t dictate or preach.
We take great satisfaction in the countless individuals who have decided to date other Jews exclusively, those who have adopted Jewish practices such as tefillin and kashruth and those who have advanced to commit themselves to complete Torah observance.
Today, after three decades of outreach work, we look on with pride at the nearly 1,000 children who attend day schools and yeshivos as a direct result of their parents’ involvement in Center for Return.