The Young Israel of Teaneck (YIOT) announced that on the Shabbat of November 12-13, they will host a Chanukat HaBayit weekend full of activities to officially dedicate the renovated and expanded shul.
Thirty years after the official incorporation of the YIOT, the newly renovated shul is open for business. The shul reopened in September 2020 in a limited capacity, only eight months after the groundbreaking, but work was still being done, and COVID was still in full force. In some ways, COVID actually allowed construction to move at a faster pace as the building was not being used.
The renovated building includes an extension of the existing main sanctuary, a skylighted galleria, a new social hall and warming kitchen on the first floor and a new beit midrash, and eight classrooms and offices on the lower level. An elevator and a staircase connect the two levels. The new mechitza in the main sanctuary has the ability to be lowered during the rabbi’s speech, improving sight lines for all.
“One of the strengths of our community, and one of things that makes our shul so special, is that we are made up of different types of people and families from a myriad of backgrounds,” said Rabbi Beni Krohn, rabbi of the Young Israel of Teaneck. “The new building allows us to provide programming that offers everyone the ability to find a way to connect. This is a place to experience beautiful and meaningful davening, to learn deeply, to spend time with each other, and it’s a place for our children to learn, daven, play and grow.”
This led to the decision to have a weekend highlighting all the things for which the new space can be used. “We decided to turn the weekend into a microcosm of what this new building provides for us,” said Rabbi Krohn.
The YIOT began with a group of 25 families with minyans rotating between the homes of some of the families. In 1997 they moved to a house on the current property, and in 2004 opened the front of the shul with a large expansion. Today there are more than 250 family units, and more people keep moving to the community.
According to Jennifer Babich, co-chair of the Chanukat HaBayit committee, “This weekend is not only a weekend of celebration but also a time to reflect on all the people who made this happen. We are a community of volunteers. The actual culmination was a true community effort. So many people gave their time, ideas, money, advice and guidance, and we want to thank everyone for helping in countless ways.”
Yaakov Pultman, one of the original founding members of the shul, chaired the expansion committee. Pultman told The Jewish Link: “We spent a lot of time thinking about the needs of the shul and building it, but the new building wasn’t built as a beautiful edifice. It was built to be an active, ongoing, developing, thriving and living being. And it has already proven to be that. It was built as a place where everyone has a place.”
Rabbi Judah Mischel will be joining the YIOT as a scholar-in-residence that weekend. Rabbi Mischel is executive director at Camp HASC and author of “BaDerech, Along the Path of Teshuva.” He has an inspiring message and will be speaking Friday night at an oneg, giving a shiur Shabbat morning, speaking at each of the minyanim and visiting the youth groups as well.
Davening will be led by two chazzanim who call the YIOT their home shul. Mordy Weinstein of the a cappella group Six13 will lead Kabbalat Shabbat, and Ari Greene of Barock Orchestra will lead Musaf. Weinstein will also lead a special Havdala and kumzitz at the close of Shabbat.
Immediately following the special Havdala and kumzitz, parents and children will take part in the completion of a children’s learn-a-thon that has been taking place over the last few weeks. The children of the shul have been learning in honor of the official reopening of not only the shul, but also the parent-child learning program.
“We had this beautiful parent-child learning program that was literally bursting at the seams in the old building and thought what a beautiful way to recognize how we’ve grown,” said Michael Gutlove, YIOT president. “There will be a child-friendly shiur, grand prizes and then we’ll kick off the Burton, z”l and Sharon Kaplan Parent-Child Learning program for the new year.”
Then at 8:30 on Saturday night, the official dedication of the new building will take place. Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, senior scholar, YU Center for the Jewish Future, will deliver divrei bracha, which will then be followed by a dessert reception. “This will be a way to give more formal hakaras hatov to all those involved who worked tirelessly, effortlessly and endlessly to get us to this day,” said Ariana Dalezman, co-chair of the Chanukat HaBayit committee.
“For some members, this will be the first time they are utilizing the shul since COVID,” Dalezman continued. “For some of the children, this will be the first time they are participating in a learn-a-thon. It’s very exciting, and this is what the shul was built for.”
The YIOT is located at 868 Perry Lane in Teaneck. To learn more about the YIOT, or to rent the space, visit yiot.org or email [email protected].