After nearly a decade at their 15-acre site, the Conservative synagogue is ready to start construction on phase two of its master plan, which will include the addition of a new and larger sanctuary, along with an adjourning social hall.
Beth El will also be adding a "catering quality" kitchen in the $2.5 million expansion plan that was approved last month by the Lower Makefield Board of Supervisors.
"We frankly need more space in order to accommodate our growth," said Randall Flager, Beth El's co-president of the roughly 250-unit congregation. Over the past year, he explained, more than three-dozen families joined the synagogue, helping the Hebrew school grow from 70 students to nearly 100.
"The building we have is just at capacity," continued Flager. "If you would show up at our building on Sunday, you would think you were at an international airport, with the traffic going in and out."
A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for Dec. 4, with Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell expected to deliver the keynote address.
The current sanctuary has a capacity of about 200 people – not nearly enough to accommodate worshippers during the High Holidays. As such, for the past seven years, the synagogue held Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at a nearby middle school.
With work expected to be completed sometime in early 2007, Beth El hopes to ring in 5768 in its bigger building.
"This is a very big deal," said Rabbi Jeff Pivo. "There is just a general excitement that people feel about coming into the synagogue at this time."
Flager said that while new classroom space is planned as part of the current expansion, he is hoping for another capital campaign to finance the enlargement of the Hebrew school within several years.
"Our projections indicate that this growth is going to continue," he said. "In order to accommodate that, we need to be building."