by: Michael Saxe-Taller
Over the past several years, we have had many important priorities – a rabbinic transition, hiring new staff, solidifying our financial situation, increasing our membership, putting new administrative systems in place, and figuring out how to respond to our current political reality. We have made enormous strides in all of these areas. I am excited to say that I believe the time has come for us to turn our full attention to our physical home.
Purchasing a building in 2004 was a very significant milestone for Kehilla. Having a permanent physical location has enabled us to deepen our communal connections, has facilitated the growth of our community in many different ways, and has made it possible for us to play a more significant role in the broader community.
Our 1300 Grand Avenue building is a very important resource for us; one that we must attend to with the same care that we bring to supporting our human resources (that means each other). We bought an old building, and it requires improvements that fall into three main areas:
- Structural repairs that ensure the sustainability of the building for many years to come.
- Upgrades that make our building more accessible.
- Improvements that increase the esthetics and the functionality of the building.
We are already making important strides in each of these areas. We have a new building committee, led by board member Ruth Atkin (see the invitation on page 4) that will shepherd the process of setting communal priorities for the building projects. Kehilla member Michael Butler (a contractor by trade) has been working with us to chronicle the many improvements that are needed. Led by Lisa Korwin, we have a beautification team that is enhancing the look of our lobby.
And I am extremely excited to report that we recently received an incredibly generous donation from a Kehilla member to be dedicated to making our building more accessible for people with disabilities. We have already begun work on several accessibility projects, including upgrading our entrance on Fairview Avenue, improving the airflow in the sanctuary, and drawing up plans for a new wheelchair lift to allow accessible travel between the main and lower floors without having to go around the block.
The upgrade and improvement of our building is a long-term project that will no doubt take several years to complete. It will require the involvement of the whole community in planning, funding, and implementing the project’s many facets. We will welcome your participation, and I will keep you updated as we continue to develop our plans.
I have no doubt that the commitment and hard work required will be worth it in the end and will enable Kehilla to carry out its mission of community building, inclusive spirituality, and social justice for many decades to come.