Nearing its capital campaign goal of $25 million, Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley on Friday will break ground on a new building almost twice the size of the existing temple.
Since the temple opened its door in the 1960s, the Reform congregation has grown from 300 to 900, motivating members to raise money for a new building which could accommodate their needs, such as addition prayer and learning rooms.
The construction has been planned for four years. In that time, the congregation has been able to raise $19.5 million, right on target with the fundraising schedule, said president of the congregation Harriet Warshaw of Wellesley.
“The congregate have been very, very generous,” said Warshaw. “We are so appreciative given these economic times. Everyone is very committed and overjoyed. It’s been a major team effort. It’s very exciting.”
The building will expand from 24,000 square feet to 42,000 square feet. The sanctuary will be able to hold 425 seats, up from the existing 280 seats. There will be 17 additional classrooms. The new building will incorporate aspects of environmentally sustainable construction such as a rain garden for landscaping and “green” material for paint and the parking lot.
“The building has been obsolete, out of date. Just as then they started their capital campaign the economy went south,” said member Scott Brighton of Needham. “I think that Temple Beth Elohim’s best days are yet to come.”
The temple and its backers have used several methods to raise the money over the past four years: small fundraising events, a phone-a-thon last week, and one- on- one solicitation.
“Gifts have ranged from $18 to $2.5 million,” Warshaw said.
The congregation will remain in the existing temple during the estimated 18 months of construction. The groundbreaking is scheduled for Friday at 6 pm
“The new building will enable us to better implement our vision of learning, prayer and deeds of social justice,” said Rabbi Joel Sisenwine, who has been at Temple Beth Elohim for 10 years.
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