An important update on our Renewal Project.
As we move toward our HBT Renewal Project Phase 1 groundbreaking, post High Holy Days 2014, we have some exciting news (and architectural views) to share. We try to use every communication channel available to us through Temple, so some of what’s printed here has already appeared in our HBT Bulletin, on our website at holyblossom.org/renewal and in Life at Holy Blossom e-blasts. However, there is a brand new set of schematic drawings for our renewed Temple campus contained in this package and many other fresh updates as well, so please give it a thorough read.
A religious and communal space for now and for what’s next.
Let’s start with the most exciting piece. The schematic drawings you’ll find here are the result of extensive congregational and stakeholder group outreach, conducted through the latter months of 2013. Our architects met with and listened to stakeholder groups (Clergy, Worship, Religious School, Out of the Cold, Stagecraft, etc.) and also participated in meetings with many diverse Temple voices (Seniors, Boomers, Temple Youth, etc.). These discussions, as well as the excellent input of our Building Committee, led directly to the schematic drawings, which take into consideration not only space and design, but also desired Temple programming within those spaces.
Speaking of programming, these same conversations have also helped our architects at Diamond Schmitt put together a comprehensive Program Book for the project. Briefly, the Program Book is a thoughtful and detailed representation of our congregation’s aspirations for the campus. More specifically, how our Temple and its spaces – both existing and new – can and will be used across three dimensions: Worship, Education and Community. So that, in the end, physical design meets function in a seamless way.
And of course, we’d like to share all the salient portions of Program Book with you. Although too dense to print here, it is excellent reading and we encourage you to take a look at holyblossom.org/renewalprogrambook.
Why 2 phases are better than 1.
As you study the schematic drawings, you’ll see that they’ve been broken out into the two planned construction phases of the Project. Briefly summarized, Phase 1 provides us with a brand new communal Atrium, a beautiful, glass-covered central gathering space for all Temple life. The Atrium is three storeys of Temple connectivity, designed for engagement and social interaction, through which all programming at HBT can be accessed. A brand new, spacious Family Chapel (located in the current Eisendrath Auditorium), Library, Youth Lounge, Temple administrative offices, and modern HVAC and electrical systems are also among the highlights of Phase 1.
Phase 2 of the project sees the complete restoration of our Main Sanctuary to its original splendour. (Have you ever wondered what that magnificent wooden ceiling would look like with proper/modern lighting?) A thorough renovation of the School Wing, both interior and exterior, and rejuvenation of the Philip Smith Congregational Hall are also part of Phase 2. So is new outdoor space and landscaping.
Taking a phased approach helps us in a few important ways, not the least of which is it allows our Congregation to utilize much of our campus during the construction process, greatly easing many key transitional issues. As we recently reported in the Bulletin and on our website, our architects, together with the Building Committee, have purposely planned it so that our Sanctuary, the Philip Smith Congregational Hall and our School Wing will remain open during all of Phase 1 construction. For all the details and benefits of this, see the story posted here: holyblossom.org/renewal.
We’ve worked hard to ensure that so much of what you love about Temple life and programming will remain available to you, without having to leave our current campus – no easy feat when you consider the difficulties of building a renewed HBT on the very same site.
The cost. And the opportunity.
We are currently in the process of re-confirming the cost of the overall project and separately, Phase 1, based on these new schematic drawings. As you know, our Temple Board has unanimously given the go ahead for Renewal, provided that the 85% fundraising threshold for Phase 1, as mandated by the congregation, is met in order for Phase 1 construction to begin. To that end, we’re also currently in the process of confirming the pledges of our many generous donors.
With that information we can update our Financial Plan and begin the review process with the Renewal Project Financial Oversight Committee, chaired by Harley Mintz. We hope to have this entire process completed in the next 8-10 weeks. This will keep us on track for our proposed Phase 1 shovel in the ground target, in Fall 2014.
It’s anticipated that construction of Phase 2 will proceed either immediately after the completion of Phase 1, or following as short a pause as possible to allow us to achieve the 85% fundraising requirement for Phase 2. To this end, a congregation-wide fundraising campaign will be kicking off shortly. Much more to come on that in the next few months. In the meantime, we ask you to consider what will be a meaningful/aspirational contribution from your own family, as our Renewal Project will only truly succeed when all of our members give generously, each according to his or her means.
A project that engages.
The most gratifying aspect of our Renewal Project and its continuing development is seeing just how many of our congregants have been drawn to it over the years. It is no exaggeration to say that hundreds of Temple members have contributed their time, effort and thoughts to how our Temple renews itself for future generations.
Whether you have donated, participated in one of our many committees, attended a Temple tour, belong to one of our stakeholder groups or have simply offered your valuable commentary as a committed Temple-goer, your interest and commitment have taken our Renewal Project from an idea that was that was initially in the hands of the few and truly made it a project of the entire Congregation.
And we will continue to engage you as the days/months move forward. There is critical planning to be done on so many levels. Transition planning for how we temporarily move our clergy, administration and other Temple functions into the School Wing is ongoing, and our Engagement Committee will again be reaching out to all stakeholder groups and interested members as we move into a deeper, detailed design process. Your participation will help ensure that our community continues to function as vibrantly as possible, and with as little disruption as possible, through all phases of Renewal construction, while ensuring that our building reflects the wishes and aspirations of all of our members.
You have questions. We (endeavor to) have answers.
We’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank everyone, from our professional staff, to our lay leadership, to our many volunteers, for their extraordinary efforts in all facets of HBT Renewal. Some of those efforts have involved fielding the many excellent, and very specific questions that have come from our interested congregants. In order to help answer these questions, we’re currently in the process of adding a FAQ section to our Renewal web page.
As you can imagine, it’s difficult to anticipate every question, to the appropriate level of detail, which may arise from the large number of our congregants with different interests and priorities. Renewal is, almost by definition, a very fluid process with new information/challenges/solutions happening regularly. So our FAQs will be an ever-evolving section based on the questions that have arisen thus far, and the ones still to come from you. Please do not hesitate to visit the FAQ section at holyblossom.org/renewalFAQs for the information you’re seeking. Or to ask a question that hasn’t been covered, please email [email protected]. Our committee members or Temple staff will follow up promptly, with the most up to date information available. And, as always, feel free to reach out to us personally at any time, at the email addresses below.
Holy Blossom Temple holds different meanings for so many. For some, we are home for family life cycle events. For others, we are prayer and learning. For still others, we are where social action and good deeds find personal expression. And of course, for many, we are all of that and more. Taken together, Holy Blossom at 1950 Bathurst Street is a cornerstone of the Canadian Jewish Community. May we continue to build on our rich history, and in so doing, assure our Temple’s future for our children and grandchildren.
Harvey S. Schipper
Chair, Renewal Project Building Committee
and Board Officer