March 2012 letter to the Congregation.
We’re writing today with an update on our Holy Blossom Renewal Project.
You’ll remember from our last letter that The Leo Baeck Day School has secured its own property at the former Arlington Middle School. Classes will be starting there this coming fall and we wish them much success and look forward to our continued strong relationship. While Leo Baeck’s departure clearly represents a significant change in our thinking, it also presents a real opportunity for us.
As we talked about at the Annual General Meeting, our Renewal Project team has spent considerable time working with our architects, Diamond Schmitt, to revise our plans. We’re pleased to share them with you now and hope you’ll see that the project remains as vital to our collective future and as transformational as ever. We are committed to moving ahead with the project as quickly as possible and, as noted below, are looking at ways we can accelerate the start of construction through phasing.
Our Renewal Project. Renewed.
This new set of drawings provides a roadmap for how our congregation envisions its future – physical space and design that will help bring us together, strengthening our community.
Fundamental to the plan, from the very first iterations and continuing right through to today, is our central atrium, which will enable our community to gather together for congregational Kiddush and other events in a space that interconnects all aspects of Synagogue life. It will be a place that is comfortable and attractive to meet with friends and to study, read and relax.
The revised plan also continues to promise a magnificently restored sanctuary. The restoration will include updated sound and lighting to enhance our worship experience and allow us to appreciate the unique design features of our historic sanctuary, including its magnificent apse and ceiling.
A new feature in this revised plan is a winding staircase that has been designed to connect our new larger Family Chapel (located in the space that currently houses the Eisendrath Auditorium), through our atrium, and down to our completely renovated Phillip Smith Social Hall – a much more vibrant space to hold simchas and congregational events.
What’s behind the walls is also important and very necessary: a completely modernized HVAC and electrical system that will make our synagogue more environmentally-friendly and cost-efficient to run.
Additional benefits of our new plan.
This plan presents us with brand new opportunities, as well. It frees up much more outdoor space where the larger Leo Baeck building was intended to be, which can now be used for gardens, outdoor worship space, etc. It also allows us to use our classroom space for new educational and other innovative programming within Temple. This additional flexibility gives us the real opportunity to re-imagine how we use our facilities every day, both indoors and out.
• No further rezoning is necessary to bring this plan to fruition.
• Overall, there will be less parking demand and less traffic in the neighbourhood.
• Our new plan will be less costly than the former plan for a number of reasons, including that the overall configuration of the school wing will be maintained.
What happens now? And next?
The preliminary concept drawings and first renderings are included with this letter. We intend to hold a Congregational Gathering before the summer so you can provide your input to our building committee and architects for the schematic and detailed design drawings. And, now that we have our new concept drawings in hand, we will be re-launching our Capital Campaign – more on that to follow.
We are also studying ways to start construction of the project sooner. Toward that end, our team is working with the architects to determine how we might phase construction. But for those members planning their simchas at Temple, you should know that the building will remain in its current configuration until at least mid-2013. Indeed, there may be ways, through phasing, that we will not have to leave our premises at all.
Our renewal website can be found by clicking the HBT Renewal tab at www.holyblossom.org. We’ll be updating it with more drawings and renderings as they become available, as well as other news and information including anticipated construction timelines and fundraising progress. We will also continue to write to you on these matters periodically. In the interim, we welcome your comments and feedback at any time – please contact us at [email protected].
Thank you for your commitment.
Whether you’ve simply read with interest to this point or are one of our many committed donors, volunteers or staff, we wish to express our deep appreciation for your support of Renewal at Holy Blossom. There is no doubt that it has been a long journey to get to this stage, but the end result will be well worth the wait.
It is no exaggeration to say that the strength and faith of previous generations of our congregational family have elevated and inspired us at Holy Blossom – to learn, to worship, and to do good deeds. May we take all the necessary decisions today to secure our Synagogue for the future and, in so doing, elevate and inspire our own children, grandchildren and all those who come after us at 1950 Bathurst Street.
Mark S. Anshan, President Rabbi John Moscowitz, Senior Rabbi