Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Congregation Welcomes New Year in New Home; Synagogue Serving Beach Communities Has Been in the Works for 18 Months

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Congregation Welcomes New Year in New Home; Synagogue Serving Beach Communities Has Been in the Works for 18 Months

Article excerpt

Byline: JON SEIDEL, The Times-Union

Jews everywhere began to celebrate their new year Wednesday, and at the Jacksonville Beaches that means celebrating in a new synagogue.

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, began at sundown and continues today. The next several days will be ones of repentance and atonement for Jews across the world as they reflect on the past year. The culmination of this time, known as the High Holidays, is Yom Kippur, Sept. 25.

But it will be the first High Holiday celebrated in Beth El-the Beaches Synagogue. It was built over 18 months but it has been more than a decade in the making.

"We could have given up on many occasions," said Stuart Williams, president of the synagogue.

Williams said internal issues caused a delay, but no one ever believed the synagogue wouldn't be built. Now he can't put into words his excitement about finally celebrating a holiday in the new synagogue.

"It's more of a feeling than a description," he said. "More of an internal thing."

The dedication of the synagogue was in May, and therefore Williams said there won't be too much in the way of celebration added to the services, other than a large appetizer meal after.

"Just being there is the celebration," he said.

But Williams did open his address to the members attending, about 80, by bringing out a golfing picture that hung in the TPC media center where they met before the synagogue was built.

"Just a little reminder," Williams said.

Rosh Hashana is the beginning of what many consider the holiest time of year for Jews. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, rabbi at Beth El-the Beaches, said the 10th day of the new year celebration, Yom Kippur, is known as the sabbath of sabbaths.

"I don't think there's really a holiest," Ben-Yehuda said. "The 10th day would never be without the first day. …

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