Expand the building or construct a brand new one?

When I moved to Ariel in 1999, we barely had a minyan on Shabbat, virtually the only day of the week the synagogue was used. The garin had just started to use the main sanctuary for daily studies, but there was not really a demand for much else.

Now, over the last few years, our “Shvut Ariel” synagogue community has gone through a major increase in families. There were about fifteen families/singles paying membership dues that year, this year I think we’ll pass forty. While that number is not incredibly large, that tripling in size of paying members is significant in that we’ve also witnessed a tripling in size of ‘non-paying’ visitors made up of students staying for Shabbat, non-religious people from the neighbourhood that show up less frequently (as opposed to our regular non-religious members), and guests of families.

The current building is not sufficient anymore. Friday night is standing room only, and occasionally so is Saturnday morning services. While we (members of the community) have been toying with the idea of expansion, it hadn’t been a priority in the past, and we also were skeptical of raising the funds to do anything about it. But we can’t ignore the problem any longer because the community continues to expand.

Along with the relatively overcrowded feeling comes the dream of building a large ‘American’-style synagogue/community center. It’s a concept that is foreign to Israel and even to most Israelis. A synagogue here was built for praying, other social and cultural activites had other venues (we’re all Jewish here :-). Nonetheless, the demand for ‘Jewish’ oriented culture and studies is going through an upswing, and a ‘real’ synagogue would provide the solution. Many factors seem to make this dream unreachable including the price tag, rezoning land, and the concept itself which, like I said, is foreign to most ‘Sabras’.

So we’ve decided to expand the current building and started some prelimenary planning to see what lie ahead. We figure that we could double the size of floor space and the price tag might be about the price of a new house. Certainly, we could raise the funds, and it will probably mean taking out some sort of community mortgage. But if we’re already getting ready for this challenge, shouldn’t we go for more?

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1 Response to “Expand the building or construct a brand new one?”


  1. 1 Sam October 15, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    Definitely. Go for more- do whatever you can to build and develop. That’s what I believe about everything – especially about Israel and especially about what you’re describing. From what I understand about Israel when a community grows like that it’s about to boom. I wish I had the money to build you guys your dream shul, but just because I don’t it doesn’t mean that noone else does either…


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