Organizations Use Summer to Renovate, Build


Summer is in full swing, and local Jewish organizations are taking advantage of the slow time of year to make some much-needed repairs and renovations to their buildings. Others are preparing to break ground on new facilities.

Here’s a quick look at some of the work being done around the area.

Kohelet Yeshiva: The Merion Station high school is upgrading its four science labs and restrooms. It’s also knocking down a wall and turning two classrooms into three to accommodate an expected increase in class size. Next door, it is building a facility to house its K-8 students, which is expected to be ready at some point in 2019. At this stage, that facility’s roof is being installed and its framing is being finished.

Mandell Education Campus: The Elkins Park campus that is home to Gratz College and the Perelman Jewish Day School recently overhauled its lighting system, including the light poles in the parking lot and the driveways and walkways around campus. The high-intensity discharge lights were converted to LED bulbs, which are brighter and more cost efficient. The project was funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

“It’s something we’ve been looking to do for two or three years,” said Harry Snyder, Jewish Federation’s director of real estate operations.

Montefiore Cemetery: The Jenkintown cemetery plans on breaking ground on a new mausoleum this summer, permitting approval from the township. Montefiore already has two mausoleums, which store bodies above ground and are more space efficient. The other two mausoleums at the cemetery are six floors high, and the third one will be, too, said Bruce Jaffe, Montefiore’s family service director. The cemetery has all of the necessary permits for the third mausoleum.

“At a cemetery, there’s always something to do,” Jaffe said.

In recent years, Montefiore has replaced trees destroyed during Hurricane Sandy and renovated an old fence.

Makom Community: The after-school program in Philadelphia recently moved to a new building after previously sharing space with Orthodox synagogue Mekor Habracha. The program’s attendees chipped in on the move, with little children helping unpack chairs and creating art to line the walls.

“It’s nice to have a space that’s our own,” said Gabriele Marantz, Makom’s after-school coordinator. “It’s nice to have a space we can grow into.”

Children at Makom Community help set up chairs at their new building. | Photo provided

Mekor Habracha: The Philadelphia synagogue recently moved to its fourth location in its existence, at 1500 Walnut St. Its previous location lacked handicap accessibility and was having trouble fitting the congregation’s increasing number of children. Previously an office space, the location was renovated to accommodate the synagogue’s needs, including a sanctuary that founding Rabbi Ellie Hirsch estimated is 30 percent larger than the previous one.

“We’re very happy with it,” Hirsch said.

Center City Mikvah Mai Shalva: Construction is set to begin shortly, but project manager Chanah Colin declined to disclose an exact timeline. The project will include a men’s, women’s and keilim mikvah, rounding out Center City’s Jewish community.

“It’ll be the first women’s mikvah in 80 years in Center City,” Cholin said.

Drizin Weiss Jewish War Veterans Post 215: The only JWV post in Philly that still has a building is undergoing renovations to make the facility more accessible. That includes widening the entrance to make it easier for people with walkers and canes to enter and exit the building. Elliot Miller, one of the post’s assistant commanders, expects the work to be done by September.

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