I am writing in response to your recent coverage of the the Lori Schottenstein Chabad Center and the concern about construction progress that a handful of Hampsted Village residents have expressed ("Hampsted residents complain about neighboring Chabad center," Dec. 16 edition of ThisWeek New Albany).

To the editor:

I am writing in response to your recent coverage of the the Lori Schottenstein Chabad Center and the concern about construction progress that a handful of Hampsted Village residents have expressed ("Hampsted residents complain about neighboring Chabad center," Dec. 16 edition of ThisWeek New Albany).

The Chabad center - which will have its official opening in May 2011 - will be one of the most unique institutions in our state, and will prove to be a relied upon resource for all people within the New Albany, and broader central Ohio, communities.

Specifically, the Chabad center will offer a range of social, educational and recreational events that engage youth and the entire community. In addition, the Chabad center will be a place of worship, study and celebration for central Ohio's Jewish community.

One of the most important aspects of our newly constructed facility will be LifeTown, a nurturing and safe atmosphere where youth with special needs can learn and practice life, social and work skills using role play and experiential learning. In this bustling "indoor city," children with special needs are able to learn by doing in an atmosphere that is both realistic and supportive. The individualized learning approach at LifeTown both enhances the students' perception of the ease in learning and the acquisition and improvement of life and job competencies. The outcomes we expect to achieve as a result of our new LifeTown and Chabad Center are:

Increased communication, social skills and self-esteem Increased specific educational goals that are directly tied to individual students in money management, problem solving and self-advocacy Building individual mastery within the lessons that are practiced at LifeTown in order to generalize these skills to the student's own community Promoting and instilling greater understanding of children with disabilities

The purpose of conveying this information is to shed a more profound light on the impact the Chabad center will have on our community and our children with special needs. While some of the construction issues are worth expressing - and have been addressed appropriately as reported in the article - it's important to maintain focus on the positives the Chabad center will bring to our community.

Construction issues are common with any project, large or small. It is important that they are dealt with accordingly, as they have been. We are looking forward to now shifting our energies toward the good our institution will bring to our community and a long-running relationship with the New Albany neighborhoods and the greater Columbus area.

Rabbi Areyah Kaltmann

Executive director

The Lori Schottenstein Chabad Center