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Rising from the ashes, temple marks ‘new era’
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Rising from the ashes, temple marks ‘new era’

The sanctuary of Highland Park Conservative Temple-Congregation Anshe Emeth in its newly refurbished state.
The sanctuary of Highland Park Conservative Temple-Congregation Anshe Emeth in its newly refurbished state.

Almost four years after a massive fire, Highland Park Conservative Temple-Congregation Anshe Emeth will dedicate the refurbished facility.

A May 2 rededication ceremony will cap a weekend celebrating the future of a congregation that looked at a potentially devastating event as an opportunity for renewal.

“We are done with the building,” said Rabbi Eliot Malomet. “This is really symbolic of a new era, a new beginning for us. The fire really allowed us to recreate ourselves. We now have this new facility, which is beautiful, which we are able to showcase to the community and gives us the opportunity to declare how much this temple means to the community and how much the shul means to all of us.”

After the August 2006 fire, the congregation began its $4.5 million Livnot (“To Build”) campaign, which has allowed it to include long dreamed-about improvements, including an expanded sanctuary. Fund-raising is ongoing, added Malomet.

The project has increased the synagogue’s size by about 5,000 square feet, mostly through the sanctuary enlargement. The sanctuary’s ark now faces east, toward Jerusalem, according to tradition.

The building is up to full fire and handicapped accessibility codes, including the installation of an elevator and sprinkler system. It has a new early childhood wing, social hall, chapel, and kitchen as well as “green” features and a remodeled exterior.

Two adjacent lots purchased by the synagogue before the fire with an eye toward an unspecified future expansion were used for a 21-space parking lot.

The rededication weekend will begin on Friday, April 30, at 6 p.m., with services, dinner, and an oneg Shabbat that will include comic sketches written by Malomet. The next morning’s 8:45 a.m. services and the following kiddush will feature a symposium by rabbis belonging to the temple.

The Sunday ceremony, beginning at 9:30 a.m., will be a recognition “of important people on the inside and outside” who helped make the renovations a reality, including the architect, builders, dignitaries, and local officials, said Malomet.

The ner tamid, or eternal light, in the sanctuary will also be lit.

For more information, call the temple at 732-545-6482.

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