Sunday, November 16 at Chanukat Beit Knesset
Special for the AJT
Young Israel of Toco Hills is getting ready to mark the culmination of a dream that has been made real after ten long years of working and planning, and the congregation couldn’t be happier about it.The New Site of Young Israel Toco Hills
The Modern Orthodox synagogue will celebrate the completion of their new building at a Chanukat Beit Knesset on Sunday, November 16. The program features keynote speaker Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schachter, the well-known professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University who is Senior Scholar at YU’s Center for the Jewish Future. And what is a better harbinger of the Jewish future than the story of the Young Israel of Toco Hills?
Founded in 1994 with just enough congregants to fill a large living room, the congregation grew exponentially as time passed. Ten years ago, it was clear that larger quarters would be necessary, and planning and fundraising commenced. When ground was broken last year, the congregation had grown to over 200 families, and had overflowed their converted house to the point that kiddushes were held in the backyard and simchas were often standing room only.
“This great step was achieved by ten years of hard work, vision, and leadership by this congregation. It’s a dream come true,” said Rabbi Adam Starr, spiritual leader of Young Israel of Toco Hills (YITH). “Now, we’re blessed with this beautiful spiritual space that is not only a building, but a reflection of our values.”
The new building is much bigger than the old one—13,200 square feet of space as opposed to the 3,200 square feet that held the congregation before—but the new Young Israel building is about more than square footage. Every detail was carefully planned to create the perfect space for prayer and spiritual growth. For example, there are ramps in the front of the sanctuary that ascend to the Bimah, modeling the message of inclusion.
Additionally, because the YITH congregation is very conscious of the greater world around them, the shul was designed to be environmentally friendly. As one of the first houses of worship to receive an Earthcraft certification, the building is thrifty with water and energy. There’s even a space in the new parking lot that features a charger for electric cars.
“We wanted a beautiful, airy, light-filled space,” said the congregation’s president, Davi Kutner. “We planned the building to enhance the experience of prayer and the coming together of our community in every possible way.” That’s why the seats are comfortable and solid, but more flexible than pews; the acoustics in the main sanctuary are flawless; and the windows flood the interior with leaf-filtered natural light. There are plenty of smaller rooms for children’s groups and Torah classes, and the main sanctuary can expand into more rooms during the High Holy days and other times of need. And at last, the administrative offices are located in the synagogue building.
The congregation moved in for the recent Rosh Hashanah services of 5775, marking the first time in a few years that the entire congregation could pray together in one room in their own building.
“Now, we can touch more people, and offer more classes, programs, and activities,” said Rabbi Starr. “We want to continue to inspire our congregants and the whole Atlanta Jewish community.”
The Young Israel of Toco Hills will hold a Chanukat Beit Knesset featuring Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schachter as keynote speaker on Sunday, November 16, at 3:00 pm. The new building is located at 2056 Lavista Road NE, Atlanta, 30329. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call Leslie Mallard at 404-315-1417.