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Community News

Beth El Congregation celebrates new home

8/22/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Beth El Congregation’s new Victor and Lillian Gross Family Chapel was dedicated this month at a special event. The outside is shown above, while an inside view of the windows is shown below right.
Photo: Kathleen Folkerth
Photo courtesy of Rabbi Stephen Grundfast
WEST AKRON — A little more than a year after its move from its longtime home on South Hawkins Avenue, the Beth El Congregation celebrated the completion of its new chapel recently.

The Victor and Lillian Gross Family Chapel was dedicated Aug. 7 at an event that brought 250 members and friends together to mark the occasion. The chapel was built onto the existing building at the Shaw Jewish Community Center (JCC) on White Pond Drive.

According to congregation officials, the new space consists of a contemporary chapel with seating for 120, a foyer/reception area and the Merkaz Room, which features a media center and family-friendly toys and books. A private courtyard provides an outdoor area for Sukkot and other events, officials said.

During the dedication, Beth El Congregation President Andrea Steinberger thanked those who played a role in the fundraising and construction of the chapel, from Arlene Rossen and Steve Newman, who chaired the capitol campaign, to the staff and boards at the Shaw JCC and the Jewish Community Board of Akron who worked with Beth El on the transition to the new location. 

Special mezuzahs, which contained pieces of the stained glass from various windows from the building on South Hawkins, were placed on the doorways by congregation families while Rabbi Stephen Grundfast led all in reciting the blessings.

Janice Woll served as chair of the event, which also included remarks by Steve Botnick and Bonnie Cohen.

The Gross family was represented by Victor Gross, who spoke and shared stories from his years of involvement with Beth El. Joe Kanfer, of the Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation, also shared his thoughts on the importance of the local Jewish community working together.

Following the dedication, those who attended enjoyed the music of the Josh Rzepka Trio and refreshments. 

The congregation had been located at its former site since 1951. Last year, the property was sold to Summit Academy for its high school program. The congregation gathered and marched with its five Torah scrolls from the old site to the new one July 15, 2012.

During the capital campaign and construction phases, the congregation held its services at the Shaw JCC.

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