On July 2 (13 Tamuz), a few hundred people gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony and 15th anniversary dinner of Chabad of Baka-Beit Levi, directed by Rabbi Avraham and Rebbetzin Nechama Dina Hendel.
The excitement was palpable as young and old joined at 87 Bethlehem Road in the heart of Jerusalem to be a part of laying the cornerstone for the community center and synagogue that will be built on the spacious plot of land which had lain barren for decades.
After years of tireless efforts, and with the perseverance of community member and architect David Abergel and the assistance of Jerusalem Deputy Mayors Rabbi Yaakov Halperin and Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, the municipality gifted the property to the Chabad of Baka community. Donors within the community and from abroad have helped raise over $1.6 million thus far, enough to begin building the beautiful structure. The total estimated cost of the building is $2.6m.
A groundbreaking event and dinner at Jerusalem's Chabad of Baka
Guests at the groundbreaking event and dinner came from far and near to be part of the community milestone. Rabbi Yisrael Yosef and Rebbetzin Tobi Hendel, Rabbi Avraham’s parents, who are Chabad emissaries in Migdal Ha’emek, joined in the celebration. It was an emotional moment when Rabbi Hendel spoke about his dear son Levi, who passed away on Hanukkah 2006 in a tragic car accident while en route to leading a menorah lighting at an IDF base in Eilat.
“This building is a comfort to us,” Rabbi Avraham’s father said, “because it will eternalize Levi’s life and legacy, which was all about doing for others, as you can see from the fact that he gave up his vacation as a young yeshiva student to bring the joy of Hanukkah to lonely soldiers.”
Also in attendance were Nechama Dina’s parents, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak and Rebbetzin Hindy Kalmenson, Chabad emissaries in New Haven, Connecticut, as well as her brothers, who are distinguished community activists and orators from Belgravia and Los Angeles. Rabbi Kalmenson was honored together with Rabbi Hendel of Migdal Ha’emek with laying Beit Levi’s cornerstone. Then it was time to break ground, and each community member had the chance to don a helmet bearing the building’s logo and dig their shovels into the plot to cover the newly laid cornerstone.
A festive dinner at the Chabad of Baka hall followed, with speakers sharing about the journey to and joy of this long-awaited moment. Rabbi Aaron and Rebecca Hurwitz, Tamir and Judy Goodman, and Rabbi Yekusiel Kalmenson were honored for their outstanding community service and support.
From adult education to children’s programs, from synagogue services to Shabbat dinners, from holiday events to Friendship Circle activities, one thing is certain: This new building will have much to offer Jerusalem residents. ❖
For more details about the building campaign, visit chabadbakabuilding.website/