Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Permanent Home for Congregation

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Permanent Home for Congregation

Article excerpt

For the past eight years, Chabad of Bradenton & Lakewood Ranch has served as a refuge for Jews of diverse backgrounds, even as the itinerant congregation moved more than five times.

Now, however, the Orthodox Jewish movement led locally by Rabbi Mendy Bukiet has a place to call home.

"As we were growing and as we wanted to do certain changes, we realized we're in a rental, we can't make those changes," Bukiet said. "From the beginning, it was always our dream to become permanent here and to make a permanent dwelling place in a house for everyone here."

The new home, the Chabad Jewish Center, sits on five acres off Lorraine Road that Chabad purchased more than two years ago. Chabad used a $250,000 grant from parent organization Tabacinic and raised money locally to purchase the property.

The grand opening Sunday follows extensive renovations to a house that was built in the 1970s. Bukiet lauded the efforts of architect Jonathan Parks for helping turn the house into an inviting, warm enclave.

"It's just a very welcoming place," Bukiet said. "It feels like it embraces you. It makes you feel comfortable."

Much of the transformation came about, Bukiet said, through the work of general contractor Adam Wieand. A member of Chabad since its inception, he supervised as a patio was removed and a new slab put down. Block walls came down and new ones went up with trusses installed and insulation that enhanced sound and increased energy efficiency.

"The challenging part and the rewarding part was that a lot of it was done with volunteers," Wieand said. "I think anybody walking in the door is going to feel welcome and it will be refuge for them in their daily life and they'll feel closer to God and the community."

In addition to their framing, painting and trim work, Bukiet also gave the 40 volunteers credit for the large role they played in bringing Chabad's new home to fruition. …

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