June 11, 2010
When the congregants walk into the temple, they gaze at the chandeliers hanging from the elevated ceilings, the new marble flooring and the fresh blue paint on the walls. With music playing in the background, they talk and enjoy appetizers and a drink in front of a portrait paying homage to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Within minutes, the foyer is filled with people standing shoulder to shoulder.
When Rabbi Mendy Posner and his wife, Chanie, walk into the temple, they are greeted by congregants with hugs, handshakes and proclamations of "Mazel Tov!" It has been a long time coming, but the family of Chabad Lubavitch of Plantation finally has its own, freestanding temple to call home.
"In this economy, people think it's a nice dream, but no one believed we could pull it off," the rabbi said.
To celebrate the grand opening of the temple, located at 10165 Cleary Blvd., a gala was thrown with about 500 people in attendance, Posner estimated. The social hall was opened up to accommodate the guests in a reception with food, music and memories. A slideshow presentation of past holidays and events was projected onto the wall.
Hugo and Hilda Bamberger, who have been coming to the temple since it opened, attended the gala and said they were blown away by the new building.
"When you pass the outside, you want to go inside. That's what sums it up," Hugo Bamberger said. "It's a wonderful building and we needed it; we were always squeezing."
His wife described her reaction to seeing it for the first time as being "dumbstruck."
Shelley Drujak has been coming to the temple for six years, ever since she was looking to make a change in her religious life. She originally attended a conservative church, and after attending a service at the Chabad, she never left. Drujak said it was the warmth, spirituality and acceptance of the people that drew her to stay. With the new building, she said it was a gift to the community.
"Every nail that went in was because of the rabbi's dream," she said. "He dreamed of it and he made it happen."
The temple is 12,000 square feet, larger than the 800 square feet of the original one that Posner founded in 1993. The groundbreaking was in August 2008, and the rabbi worked closely with an architect to design the building. The new synagogue has children's classrooms, a men's mikvah pool, library, offices for the rabbis, a kitchen and a social hall.
"We feel that we'll be able to offer so much more to the community," Posner said.
At the front of the temple sanctuary stands the Torah ark, which the rabbi hopes to grow in size as well. He wants it to be 36 by 16 feet with the 12 tribes of Israel. But for now, he is worrying about putting the finishing touches on the temple.
Ivor Bamberger, the master of ceremonies for the gala, said the temple is a place for growth in one's Judaism, and the size of the temple shows a need from the growing orthodox community.
"If you build it, people will come," Bamberger told the congregants.
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