Friday, November 18, 2011

In 30 days a synagogue comes to life 

On a patch of land in south Aventura are five brown trailers put
together to make one building, Lubavich Aventura South's first place of
its own.

This temporary synagogue was built in 30 days, just in time for the High Holidays.

"It's a home," said Julia Peron, 55, who has been a member of the Lubavich
congregation for about two and a half years. "During the High Holidays,
it was beautiful. Everybody knew each other. Since we had a bigger
place, friends of friends and family of family were able to also come."

Lubavich Aventura South, led by Rabbi Mendel Rosenfeld, previously rented two salons at the Aventura Courtyard Marriott for its services.

The Lubavich synagogue is the first one in south Aventura, making it much
easier for Orthodox Jews who live in the neighborhood to walk to Shabbat services.

"Now, the synagogue is right there," said Ronald Zukin, 71, who used to attend services at the Courtyard Marriott. "It is so
close to us. Before we were walking almost a mile. There are loads of
senior citizens who per law of Orthodox Judaism do not drive on the

After the city approved the construction of the
synagogue in late July, Rosenfeld wanted it completed in time for Rosh
Hashanah at the end of September.

"The rabbi had asked me, 'Can
you please have this ready for the High Holidays?'," said Daniel Naim,
construction manager and congregation member. "I laughed at him. I
asked, 'In what year?' "

The 3,500-square-foot temple was ready on Sept. 23, five days before Rosh Hashanah.

"It was amazing," Naim said. "It was incredible to come here and see all
the people enjoying themselves. They had a place to pray and a home that is not a rented hotel room."

In two years, the temporary temple
will give way to a permanent, 19,800-square-foot, two-story synagogue
made from white stucco and Jerusalem stone with stained-glass windows.

Since the temple opened, Rosenfeld's congregation has grown to more than 600
people. Aside from its weekly services and Torah studies, the temple
offers weekly free lunches.

Construction of the synagogue began in late August. The land was slated for a high-rise condominium and its
underground foundation – large concrete piles – had to be removed,
causing one of many delays in the construction process.

"When we
started to dig here, we hit a lot of concrete piles," said Morris
Kaplan, the representative for the congregation and a congregation

The crews then had 30 days to move a Florida Power &
Light pole that was in the middle of where the synagogue would be;
install a custom-made electric distribution panel to light the facility; dig 18-feet deep to install the 200-foot-long drainage pipe; pour
cement for the sidewalk and parking lot; plan the landscaping and take
care of inspections by the Aventura Zoning and Building Department, as
well as the Miami Dade Fire Department.

Everything was finalized by 4 p.m. Sept. 23, except for one light fixture.

"If anything through that process had a one-hour delay, then we wouldn't have been ready in time," Kaplan said.

More than a month after the synagogue was completed, congregation members still felt blessed to have a place of their own.

"It was like having a child," said Ruth Akerman, 60, of south Aventura. "I
have been waiting for this to happen, and we were thrilled once we had
it. Now, it is like this place where we are like blooming."


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