Robert Lipman has never really put out there how his life has somewhat changed in the past 10 years after meeting a very young Chabad Rabbi through a Catholic former Atlanta Falcon friend who knew (and knows) Robert very well. Robert never would have imagined that meeting a Rabbi (with a terrific sense of humor) was possible, especially given their diverse and different backgrounds. It is amazing what a difference he has made in Robert Lipman’s perspective of the Jewish religion. The Rabbi started coming over to Robert’s home once a week just to talk about aspects of life, much of which he had never considered or thought about. As their relationship continued to grow, the Rabbi would invite Robert and Charlie (his dog) to his house for Shabat dinners, where Robert would also get to know the young Kennesaw State students whom the Rabbi would also invite. The Rabbi’s home and “synagogue” were purposely located very near the campus to primarily serve the young students for whom he opened his house. Robert Lipman quickly and easily identified with the Rabbi’s mission to interact with young kids with whom and for whom the Rabbi could make a difference.
Believe it or not, due to the lack of funding (students do not have much money), Robert Lipman sadly and quickly observed that the Rabbi’s “synagogue” located at the end of a strip shopping center is simply not adequate and he deserved better as his congregation has grown. At services or special events, congregates would have to stand and sometimes be outside of visual and hearing distance due to the restricted confines of the leased space.
Robert Lipman decided it was time to leave a legacy that would also benefit tremendously the career of his new Rabbi 4 years ago. Robert approached the Rabbi with his decision to provide the means of purchasing land and building a structure that truly could serve as a “synagogue” and student activity center for the Kennesaw State kids. The primary challenge was finding property located either on or adjacent to Kennesaw State property because of the fact that the Rabbi could not drive on the Sabbath and would have to be within walking distance to his home. The easy part turned out to be finding the property; the very difficult part was getting the zoning approved because of certain neighbors who did not exactly favor the zoning variance to build the synagogue. Robert Lipman is very pleased to report that after a year and a half of legal haggling, the County and the State finally approved the variance and the property was purchased.
Robert Lipman was able to persuade his Rabbi to hire the services of his architect who had designed both of his last two houses where the architect did a marvelous job. The design plans are in the final stages has not been easy! Although Robert has obviously played a vital part in the process, including the design, ultimately it is up to the Rabbi and his staff to give the final approval to the plans. Patience has never been one of Robert Lipman’s virtues, it has been somewhat frustrating to him that after 4 years the progress has been extremely slow.
In the weekly meetings at Robert Lipman’s house with his Rabbi, he have learned not to ask him about the developments, but leave it up to him to tell to give updates. This has been made easier as they usually have lively discussions and the Rabbi makes sure that Robert completes tefillin which he had never even heard of prior to meeting the Rabbi. Robert teases his Rabbi that following every visit to his house, the Rabbi leaves a little wiser then before his arrival due to the in depth discussions. And before the Rabbi leaves he usually tells a corny joke that is hardly worth remembering,