Our History


F.R.E.E. of Brighton Beach is a satellite branch of Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe (F.R.E.E.), headquartered in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.


The organization Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe (F.R.E.E.) was founded in 1969 by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson . F.R.E.E.’s leadership is made up of Jews who were born under the former Soviet Union, who have dedicated themselves to assisting their compatriots succeed in American society while at the same time strengthening Jewish identify in order to prevent the pitfalls of assimilation. Whereas, many social service agencies cannot relate to the unique cultural and linguistic barriers that exist for newly arrived Russian-Jewish immigrants, many of F.R.E.E.’s volunteers are personally acquainted with the problems and experiences of the Soviet Jew, having undergone the same transitions themselves. At F.R.E.E., our work is not a profession, but part of a life’s work assisting friends and family.

Over the years, F.R.E.E. has maintained its focus in helping the growing Russian Jewish community in the United States. Today, F.R.E.E. is an entire network of programs and services, and has become the largest Jewish organization in the United States serving Russian immigrants with both their spiritual and material needs. The range of programs offered include: social & humanitarian services, Jewish education, Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparations and celebrations, Judaic literature in Russian language, summer camps, circumcisions for children and adults, holiday programs and instruction manuals, the distribution of clothing and furniture, and much more.

F.R.E.E. of Brighton Beach

In the 1980's, when waves of new immigrants began to settle in the Brighton Beach area of Brooklyn, at the instruction of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Hershel Okonov, Vice-President of F.R.E.E. Headquarters, sought to establish a synagogue and Beis Chabad (Chabad House) that would cater to their unique needs. He came up on the Hebrew Alliance congregation, whose grand synagogue premises at 2915 Brighton 6 th Street, were not in use. The joint Hebrew Alliance-F.R.E.E. Synagogue was born. Ever since, the Synagogue has become an integral part of the rich tapestry of the Russian-Jewish community in New York. Russian Jews everywhere know that whenever they are in a moment of need, the Synagogue’s doors are open.

Today, F.R.E.E. of Brighton Beach has expanded to include many innovative programs geared especially to the ever-changing face of the needs of Russian-Jewish community. In 2002, M-Generation began producing shows in the multiple languages spoken in our community, including Russian, Hebrew, Yidish and English. Also in 2002, Mazel Day Care opened its first preschool class nearly doubling in enrollment with each year. 2006 brought the inauguration of Mazel Day School as the first contemporary, high-quality Jewish Day School in Brooklyn designed to cater specifically to the educational needs of the Russian-Jewish child. In 2006, the Torah Learning Center began its first semester of lectures, classes, and workshops for men and women interested in learning more about their heritage and identity. Hebrew School, Ckids, Cteen (Chabad Teen network) and JLI - Jewish Learning Institute). These are but a few of our main programs, and but a tip of the iceberg in fulfilling our ultimate vision. With your involvement and support, we can continue to grow and expand as YOU become part of our history.