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Beth El Set to Use Funds for Major Upgrades
The significant sum, raised since August, will be used to finance the growing congregation's expansion project, which includes plans for a new, larger sanctuary, a social hall and an enlarged kitchen.
The money raised during this phase of the campaign is in addition to more than $2.25 million raised several years ago for the building fund, explained Rabbi Jeff Pivo.
He added that the fundraising efforts are going to make "an enormous difference" for the future of the congregation.
"We are now seeing the fruition of all those efforts," said the rabbi. "We look forward to ever-higher achievements as we move forward."
The Conservative congregation is currently home to roughly 280 member families, according to congregation co-president and capital campaign co-chair Randall C. Flager, who declared that its "membership is at an all-time high."
In order to accommodate the traditionally large attendance at High Holiday worship, Beth El has had to resort to holding services at a local middle school ever since the congregation moved to its Stony Hill Road location from Levittown 10 years ago, explained the rabbi.
But come September 2008 -- and the beginning of the year 5769 -- congregants will be able to observe Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in a brand-new sanctuary, complete with new ark, new furniture and other modern improvements.
Flager said the upgrades will help "make the building a warm, inviting, beautiful and spiritual place."
Construction on the project continues nearly daily at the synagogue. The rabbi said that the synagogue lacked the infrastructure necessary to host substantial events, like weddings, large Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties, and community programs, which it intends to hold once the improvements are instituted.
"We didn't have the space," he said. The expansion -- scheduled for completion in the spring of 2008 -- is "going to make an enormous difference."
The synagogue has set a dedication celebration to occur over Memorial Day weekend.
Pivo has announced that Rabbi Neil Gillman, a retired professor of Jewish philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and author of several books, including Sacred Fragments: Recovering Theology for the Modern Jew, will be the guest speaker during the dedication weekend.
"It's been a labor of love," said Flager of the contributions that Beth El's received. "I can't even begin to express my thanks to the congregation."