Under sunny and atypically warm weather conditions, the congregants of Bais Medrash of Bergenfield (BMOB) came out in large numbers and multiple generations to celebrate the groundbreaking of their new shul building on Sunday morning, February 23. Just a few houses away from their current building, the new property at 385 South Prospect Avenue rests on half an acre, which will provide space for a large, new edifice including a main sanctuary, a beit midrash, youth spaces, classrooms, offices and a large social hall for simchas. Since its founding in 2004, housed in a small basement, BMOB has grown to include over 200 full and affiliate member families.
In welcoming the participants, President Jonathan Price thanked the many individuals who brought the project to this milestone. Yale Baron, past president, was instrumental in purchasing the new property and has been an optimistic visionary throughout the process. Daniel Barzideh, current vice president, spearheads the building and capital campaign committee. Thanks go to Greenberg Traurig for providing pro bono legal services; Jeff Lewis of Trinity Development Corporation, the general contractors for the project; and Arcani and Lovino, the architects. Kudos go to Naftali Levenbrown and Yonatan Isser for serving as key members of the building committee. Price expressed gratitude to all for “prioritizing the shul and community” and raising $2.7 million towards its construction so far and hopefully the balance of $300,000.
Among the many government officials in attendance were Freeholder Tracy Zur, who shared that her father had been the president of his shul during its construction, making her very aware of the major efforts necessary. She also expressed the hope that the “glorious weather would serve as a portent of the project coming in under budget and on time.” Assemblyman Chris Kelly and Bergenfield Mayor Arvin Amatorio mentioned the diversity of the Bergenfield community and its success at inclusiveness. They offered their open doors to assist in the project. Also in attendance were Bergenfield council members Raphael Marte, Marc Pascraul, Buddy Duena, Hernando Rivera and Tom Lodato.
Councilwoman Ora Kornbluth, a 29-year resident of Bergenfield, expressed pride at the tremendous growth of the community, now housing three shuls. Pointing to the passuk above the Aron Kodesh, “V’asu li mikdash me’at v’shachanti b’tocha” from this week’s parsha of Terumah, she interpreted the message as a call to the BMOB community to get together as a team to create the new mikdash, sanctuary.
Rabbi Moshe Stavsky, who has served as the morah d’asra of BMOB since 2011, thanked the many individuals involved in the new building for their tireless dedication to the project over the past few years. Included in the thank yous was Abby Cooper, singled out for her organization of every aspect of the groundbreaking ceremony. Referring as well to the passuk above the Aron Kodesh, Rabbi Stavsky related the story of a medieval synagogue whose members were skeptical about how the shul would be lit. Their rabbi urged each member to attend consistently as each one of them embodied a source of light for the edifice, and when they were missing, that source was absent. “So too our shul is only as great as the people who attend. Every one of us invests this structure with holiness and brings his/her light to the community.”
The assemblage walked over to the building site where a large digger was stationed, to the delight of the younger set. Memento photographs of the groundbreaking ceremony were taken amidst a celebratory atmosphere. A festive collation followed at the current shul building.
Vice President Daniel Barzideh summed up the BMOB community. “We represent the spectrum of Orthodoxy within the Bergenfield community and offer a warm and welcoming venue for all.”
To learn more about BMOB, visit www.bmob.org.