Ground Broken for Synagogue
Members of Congregation Beth Shalom broke ground on Columbia's South Side for their first-ever synagogue.
The new building is what the congregation's Rabbi calls its first building specifically designed to be a synagogue. This is because their current building was transformed from a farmhouse into a synagogue.
"I would say that [the ground-breaking] symbolizes optimism, it symbolizes the idea that they're absolutely determined to have a permanent presence in the city of Columbia. It also symbolizes the welcoming of Columbia to a wide variety of faiths and houses of worship and I think that this is going to be a great, positive addition," said Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman.
In a special ceremony, members of the congregation and political leaders broke ground on the new structure. Some members even broke out into song to celebrate the event. Congregation members say although they are only a few hundred strong, Columbia's Jewish community is growing. With this new addition, members say they'll finally have a place to spread out.
"Whenever we celebrate something big in the life of an individual Jew who turns 13 years of age, namely a bar-mitzvah or a bat-mitzvah, we were unable to hold it on the premises," said Rabbi Yossi Feintuch.
Members of the congregation expect to have the synagogue completed by Labor Day.