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Jul 21, 2008

a waste of a million dollars

I was learning with my chavrusa the other day and as we finished and were leaving the beis medrash we saw a sign by the door. The sign was informing the public of a certain kehilla announcing their upcoming move into their new building.

This is a kehilla that negan many years ago in the neighborhood with its Rav in America, supposedly travelling once in a while to be with his flock in Israel. I had heard way back when they wer e located in a small beis medrash and had moved, and then I had heard nothign of them for a long time.

So, we see this sign and I mentioned to my chavrusa in shock that I thought they had closed down a long time ago. He said tey still exist but number around 20 avreichim and move around from place to place.
So I asked him where the building is. As we walk outside, he points to a building under construction nearby and says that is it.

This is a building that has not been worked on in a long time. It has sat there in its current state of being slightly more than a shell, for at least many months if not years. The building is huge, and might possibly be the largest shul building in RBS.

I asked why a congregation of 20 people needs to build a 1 million dollar building (I had just guessed at the number), and he responded "$1,000,000??? It is more like a $2,500,000 building!".

I do not know the exact number of how much it cost to build the building. 2.5 might also be a guess, or an inaccurate estimate, but he lives in that part of the neighborhood and knows more about them than I do, so I asusme he is closer to right than me.

I do not understand why a shul of 20 people needs to waste resources of the Jewish community, local and international, with their fundraising efforts, to build a massive shul. I know of at least one other shul in the neighborhood in which someone decided to open a shul. He has connections with donors and he built a million dollar shul building. He built it in record time because he raised the money very fast. And he can hardly get a minyan. one can see fairly regularly outside of his shul people standing out calling others in to complete the minyan.

You might say if he (not any one specific person, but anybody building a large building that will not be used by more than a handful of people) is able to raise the money and build his building, so be it.
But I say not. He (again, not any one specific person) probably told his donors how much the building is necessary, how another shul is necessary, how he has so much to offer the community, in order to get them to give him money for this project.

In the meantime there are 1 or 2 million dollar buildings sitting practically empty, and those in our neighborhood are not the only ones like that, when that money could have been used for communities that really do need it, for the poor, for yeshivas, for any one of dozens of other needs in the Jewish community.


  1. I heard that the main donor came to Israel last year and was taken to see how his donatoin is coming along. And when he saw this huge monster of a building going up right next to 2 operating shuls and within a 1 minute walk from 5-10 other operating shuls and a men's mikve, began to question the need for him to continue donating for such a building that is in doubt as to who and how many will use it. I was told that he was very upset because he was sold the idea as being a very important structure in a new neighborhood sorely lacking in these facilities.

  2. While "i heard" is often not a good source of information - it must be said that when this building was started, there was nothing else in this part of town. No mikvah, no chassidishe place, no normal shul. not even a rov (expcept RSZP from across town, maybe). So that would have been legit.

    The number I have heard is $5M, not 2.5. He supposedly has plans to open a wedding hall for the community, which is sorely needed. Especially one that can be used for bar mitzvahs and not cost a small fortune. Also supposedly he wants to bring in a yeshiva, which is also lacking inthe area. true its probably a chassidishe yeshiva, but it is definately lacking

  3. A wedding hall !!!??? in a residetial area!?
    Oh man that's even worse of a traffic problem than all the people who run to shul and can't be bothered to park their cars like a mensch and block half the street.

  4. Rafi,

    At the very least, can they finish the structures!? My biggest pet peeve are all of the shells in the neighborhood. It's an embarrassment.


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