After about five years of planning, Chabad House of Monroe broke ground Nov. 18 on its new center. The ceremony at the 324 Applegarth Rd. site was originally scheduled for Nov. 4, but was postponed by Hurricane Sandy.
The new Howard H. Berger Chabad Community Center is expected to be completed in June.
The event drew some 120 community members and local officials, said Rabbi Yehuda Spritzer. “It was exciting…to see such a turnout and commitment to ensure this center is built,” he said.
Although the original $2.5 million price tag had to be scaled back to $1.5 million when fund-raising lagged in the bad economic climate, the 3.5-acre site will still provide much-needed space, said Spritzer.
Fund-raising is continuing for the new building, which will contain a synagogue, social hall, classrooms, administrative offices, a kitchen, and a mikva. Its stained-glass windows, designed by Monroe artist Maurice Mahler, will depict mitzvot championed by the late Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
Spritzer said the property is large enough to accommodate future expansion if it becomes necessary.
Previously, he said, “we didn’t have the facilities we needed…. Every function we had, whether it was Hebrew school or our weekly bistro cafe, we had to disassemble and reassemble furniture because we had such limited space. Now we will have room for everything.”
The building is named for the late owner of the Howard Berger Company in Cranbury — formerly of Monroe — a supplier of hardware, plumbing and paint products, and home environment products to retailers. Berger, a resident of Point Lookout on Long Island, made a $370,000 commitment to the center before his death.
Other dedications include: Harold Miller of Monroe, the ark in memory of his wife, Deborah; contractor Danny Matarese, the women’s section and a Torah scroll in memory of his mother; and Larry Kasloff of Monroe, a window in memory of his son.