Bet Haverim Starts Fresh

Bet Haverim Starts Fresh

David R. Cohen

David R. Cohen is the former Associate Editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times. He is originally from Marietta, GA and studied Journalism at the University of Tennessee.

Simchat Torah represents the conclusion of one cycle and the beginning of a new one.

To celebrate its own new chapter, Congregation Bet Haverim will hold an official homecoming for its new building and fully renovated sanctuary for Simchat Torah on Monday, Oct. 5.

“In a way this is just like Simchat Torah,” Bet Haverim Executive Director Amy Robertson said. “It’s sort of the beginning of a new era. It’s so beautiful to be able to bring our Torah into the space and place it at home there. It’s an amazing alignment of the stars that the timing has worked out.”

Bet Haverim closed on the purchase of its new location, Young Israel of Toco Hills’ old home, in October 2014, but with planning, permits and renovations, it took nearly a year for the space to be ready for the Reconstructionist congregation led by Rabbi Josh Lesser. Now it will join together to bless the space on Simchat Torah.Bet Haverim Starts Fresh 1

Besides the traditional festivities for Simchat Torah, Robertson said the homecoming event will include the lighting of a menorah, a blessing for the space, and a toast to how far the congregation has come in the 30 years since it was founded in 1985 by lesbians and gay men.

A standing-room-only crowd is expected.

“This is a really huge spiritual and communal moment for us,” Robertson said. “We now have a sanctuary that’s ours and control over our space in ways that we never had before. We have opportunities to set our own policies instead of following the policies of the organization we are renting from. All these ideas I’ve had for years and years are now possible.”

Upgrades to the building include the replacement of nearly all doors and windows, acoustical paneling to optimize sound in the space, and the addition of wheelchair-accessible ramps to be fully compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

High Holiday services and large gatherings will continue to be held at higher-capacity venues, such as St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, because the building is not large enough to house the entire 350-household congregation.

“We’re really excited about the possibilities that this space will open up for us,” Robertson said, “and we hope that people will come visit.”

What: Simchat Torah

Where: Congregation Bet Haverim, 2074 LaVista Road, Toco Hills

When: 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 5

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