n 1984, Austin had only a budding Jewish community. It was into this Jewish
desert that Rabbi Yosef and Rochel Levertov came. To make the desert bloom,
so to speak, was, and is, their life’s mission. Initially, the couple’s objective was to serve
the student body of the University of Texas (UT) which had an estimated Jewish population
of 4,000 undergraduate students and 500 graduate students.
Since then, the Chabad presence in Austin has expanded. It now includes a separate branch near Downtown Austin that serves young jewish professionals and area residents, led by Rabbi Mendy and Mussy Levertov, a new branch in Round Rock run by Rabbi Mendel and Mussi Morosow, while the torch of the campus Chabad has been passed to Rabbi Zev, a UT alumnus, and his wife Ariella, Johnson.
In the beginning, the Hebrew Preparatory School, then called Bais Menachem Hebrew Academy, was located in the home of the Levertovs and at the Chabad house on campus. It then moved to rental properties on Village Center Drive, to a facility on Spicewood Springs, and later to it's current location on Parmer. The synagogue space was also rented in an office building on Spicewood Springs and later to another commercial space down the road. For the last fifteen years, the synagogue and school have be housed in rented spaces, constantly outgrowing these temporary homes. Plans are in the works to find a permanent home in the Northwest Hills neighborhood where their influence has been strongly felt. The community has rallied behind them and alumni from all over the world have donated as well as participated in the fundraising efforts.
Today, the Levertovs direct Chabad of Austin, cultivating the growth of the Jewish community. The local grocery, HEB, worked with Rabbi Levertov to make what we now call "The Kosher HEB" with a deli counter, kosher meat, and kosher bakery. Jews in Austin, whether visiting or local, use HEB as a resource for community as well as food. Since their shift in focus to city-wide Jewish life, they have expanded their programming to include A highly-acclaimed pre-school and elementary school (celebrating 25 years this coming school year), flourishing summer camp, holiday and Shabbat offerings, and a full roster of classes, prison chaplaincy, out of town hospitality, home bound care, as well as much more.