After purchasing a plot of land more than four years ago, Temple Judea of Bucks County is finally going forward with its plans to build a new home.
After jumping from approximately 199 families in 2001 to its current membership of 279 families, the Doylestown synagogue has had trouble accommodating all of its members.
Space in the building – and in the parking lot – is at a premium due to a growing Hebrew school, the need for more B'nai Mitzvah tutoring and adult-education classes, some of which occur at the same time.
"We're literally bursting at the seams with the size of our congregation," said Gail Becker, synagogue president, who noted that the current Swamp Road location was only built to accommodate 135 families. "We're constantly battling for space."
Though constructing a brand-new facility can be an exhaustive and costly effort, Becker believes that they could not have simply added on to the current building.
"The site does not have any room for growth," she said. "We cannot expand on this."
And so, in 2001, the congregation purchased a lot on nearby Rogers Road, and after paying down some of the debt on the land, it has now contracted with an architect to create initial building designs.
Becker hopes that the new space will provide the mainstays of a contemporary religious institution – a sanctuary, a social hall, and plenty of classrooms, meeting rooms and offices – along with the space to ultimately accommodate a total of 450 families, the growth she anticipates in the future.
"The specifics are going to be dependent on our ability to raise money," said Becker, who hopes to show designs of the new facility by April. "Our wish list is much bigger than our pocketbook right now."
To remedy the situation, the synagogue has hired a financial firm to help with fundraising.
Also, Becker believes that the value for its current property lies somewhere between $1.5 and $2 million, the bulk of which will comprise the basis for the new synagogue.
As Green as Can Be
The congregation would also like to make its prospective site energy-efficient, and more in tune with the environment.
"We'd like a green building – to make it as energy-efficient and as good for the environment as possible," said Becker.
Since plans are in the early stages, the site at Rogers Road is still vacant, but it now has a sign reading "Future Home of Temple Judea of Bucks County."
"In the next few months," said Becker with enthusiasm, "we're hoping to see some really concrete advances."