Three years ago, a team of lay leaders began to explore the potential for renewing our facilities.
Their work included a detailed study, led by our architect, that assessed our culture and programs in light of our needs and current physical facilities. The team concluded that renovating our building and grounds can have a major effect on attendance, participation, physical comfort, and our ability to attract new members.
Since the miraculous rebuilding of our synagogue after the 1979 fire, no significant capital improvements or changes to our facilities have been made.
As a result, many areas of the synagogue are in disrepair, including our bathrooms, heating and ventilation system, lighting, roof, and indoor and outdoor surfaces. In addition, improvements to our facilities – including their flexibility, size, comfort – can speed the progress of our congregation and the realization of our mission.
We strive to be a welcoming congregation. Yet visitors cannot find our “front door”, or find their way to the area of the synagogue they are looking for.
We strive to create an environment of passionate learning and spiritual growth. Yet many of our spaces are uncomfortable, unattractive, and outmoded.
We encourage participation by all, and strive to create a multi-level and multi-generational experience for our members. Yet we lack the appropriate spaces for modestly-sized gatherings, services, and simchas.
Our architect worked with our clergy, staff, and lay leaders to define and prioritize a master plan of the improvements that are needed. We also undertook a fundraising feasibility study that indicated the potential to raise $3.5 to $4 million from our membership for a first phase of the project. Based on the success of these early phases, we are proceeding with the project.
We made the decision to move forward despite the currently difficult economy for a number of reasons:
The opportunity to renew our facilities is now. Programs that are thriving need appropriate spaces. Areas of disrepair must be attended to.
Although the current economy may make it difficult for some members to contribute as much as they would like, it also enables us to realize savings in construction costs that would not be available in “boom” times.
Pledges to the Solomon project are payable over three-to-five years, and our donors-to-date have taken the likelihood of an economic recovery into account when making their pledges.
To serve the principle of living within our means, we have decided to approach the project in phases.
The master plan includes updating and renovation of virtually all our indoor spaces, and the developing of wasted outdoor space into an outdoor sanctuary, and several patios and gardens for gathering and contemplation.
Phase One of the project begins with our most important needs, and focuses on the center of our building.
Reconstruction of our entry and lobby into a welcoming and inviting structure that simplifies way-finding to the other areas of the synagogue and provides a much-needed area for gatherings and celebrations that do not suit our social hall.
Remodeling and enlargement of the chapel, including more functional entry and a new, flexible space that can be used for chapel seating or separated into a room for meetings or small gatherings. The renewed chapel will be much better suited to our High Holy Day Different Services, weddings, lectures, and other events for which our main sanctuary does not serve us well.
Fixing the parts of our infrastructure that are most in need of repair, including our roof, heating and ventilating system, outside surfaces, and the main bathrooms.
Air-conditioning in the renovated areas.
Construction is underway and we hope to be finished by late Spring of 2011, just a few months from now.
Synagogues are the cornerstone of Jewish life in the Bay Area
- More Bay Area Jews belong to synagogues than any other Jewish organization
- When they first move to the Bay Area, synagogues are the most likely first contact with the Jewish community (versus JCCs or other Jewish organizations)
Being Jewish is a “growth industry” in the Bay Area, and Congregation Beth Jacob is located at the epicenter
- The Bay Area is the fastest growing Jewish community in the United States, and is estimated to be the third largest (after New York and Los Angeles)
- The Peninsula is the fastest growing region
Congregation Beth Jacob is thriving
- 450 member families comprising over 1,100 individual members
- 175 religious school students (pre-school through teens)
- 150 members involved in adult education
- 150 members actively engaged with synagogue-driven Israel action and education
- 100 members volunteer in social action projects
- A balanced annual budget of $1.4 million funded exclusively by dues and donations
- In the 2009 “Best Of” poll undertaken by J, The Jewish Newsweekly Of Northern California, Congregation Beth Jacob took more “best of” categories than any other synagogue in the Bay Area, including:
- Best Collaborative Synagogue Programming
- Best Israel-Related Synagogue Programming
- Best Social Action Synagogue Programming
- Best Adult Education Synagogue Programming
- Best Interfaith Synagogue Programming
- CBJ’s adult education program won the Solomon Schechter Award for Adult Education from the United Synagogue Of Conservative Judaism, and we are one of seven Bay Area synagogue religious schools selected for the Bureau of Jewish Education’s “NESS” initiative
If you are interested in meeting with a team member, please contact Eric Stone by email or at 650-366-8481.