Last Shabbat, Congregation Bonai Shalom held their first services in their building on Cherryvale Ave. since flood waters rushed through and damaged most of the facility last September. While all the repairs and renovations are not yet complete, the main entrance, main hall and the interior stairs to the Sanctuary are now complete, and the synagogue’s leadership, including Rabbi Marc Soloway, decided that would be enough to begin using the building again for its main purposes: prayer services and learning.
Last Friday’s musical Kabbalat Shabbat service was well attended by close to 100 members and well-wishers, including invited and honored guest Gary Fifer. Fifer, Executive Director of Congregation Har HaShem, was the recipient of a heart-felt tribute from Rabbi Soloway for all the assistance Har HaShem has rendered to Bonai Shalom while Bonai has been displaced from their building, including housing Bonai’s offices and some of Bonai’s community programming. Har HaShem will continue to host Bonai’s offices while the work on Bonai’s building continues through the summer, even while Bonai moves their services back to Cherryvale from the Unitarian Church on Pennsylvania St.
Friday’s services were followed by a “welcome home” potluck Oneg in Bonai Shalom’s restored patio and creek-side “back yard”, complete with picnic tables.
Bonai Shalom’s below grade social hall and their main floor offices and kitchen were severely damaged by last September’s 100-year flood, as the creek branch running behind their building at 1527 Cherryvale Ave. roared through their property. After a few months of study and planning, the congregation made the decision to rebuild their synagogue, albeit with a different floor plan.
When completed later this year, the main (ground-level) floor will boast a large social hall that will open out to their patio and creekside backyard. The hall will be complemented by a completely new kosher kitchen, repositioned to allow flow between the south end of the building (with the sanctuary and basement) and the new social hall without having to traverse through the kitchen itself. Finally, the redesigned garden-level basement will house the congregation’s offices and classroom space.
Watch the BJN for an invitation to the community to attend a grand re-opening when the construction is complete.