In just a year's time, Congregation Beth El in Yardley hopes to be holding its High Holiday services in its own sanctuary -- and not at Pennsbury Middle School. For years, come each fall, the congregation has had to rent space in the school since the shul's growing membership could not fit in into the synagogue chapel.
After four years of planning and fundraising, the expansion has finally begun, said congregation co-president Randall Flager, who used the word "major" to describe it.
When the shul moved from Levittown 10 years ago, a chapel and a school were built, but the construction ended there. The new expansion includes a sanctuary, social hall, lobby, and expanded kitchen and bathrooms.
"We're very happy about this, and very excited," said Flager.
"It's long overdue."
In the past, when families held Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, they had to rent tents or use other temporary structures because large groups simply could not fit into the chapel. By 2007, tents will be a thing of the past, if all goes according to plan.
"We can all be together" for important events, said Michael Rettig, congregation co-president.
The fundraising campaign began about two years ago, according to Rettig.
"We've made substantial progress toward our goal," he noted, "but it is going to continue." The money raised will go toward construction costs, and the interior furnishings and decoration of the expansion.
Both co-presidents have noticed the buzz within the community. Rettig said that "there seems to be widespread excitement."
"We have a lot of dedicated and wonderful members," said Flager of the congregation. "We are very blessed."