Congregation members in Rhinebeck along with elected officials gathered for laying of the cornerstone for Northern Dutchess County’s first Synagogue and Jewish Center.
The Center will include a synagogue, a multipurpose room, a Hebrew school, facilities for Shabbat dinners, and the Jewish experience for children.
“It’s really more about a community center coming together actually just a congregation,” Rabbi Hanoch Hecht said. “We look upon ourselves not just as a place for people to come and pray but rather as a home for them.”
Hecht and his wife Tzivie moved to the Rhinebeck area six years ago and the Rhinebeck Jewish Center has been working out of rented space for that time.
The center follows the philosophy of Chabad and so welcomes everyone.
“Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, you know, accepting of everyone,” said congregation member Sonny Fraiman.
“Even if I’m not a religious person I wanted some kind of identity with the Jewish community,” Sandy Fraiman said. “He [the Rabbi] has enabled us to really reach out and get to know everybody”.
Tzivie Hecht announced that RJC would also include a mikvah, a ritual bathhouse for women.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro is excited about the growing diversity in Northern Dutchess County.
“The religious diversity of Northern Dutchess County has changed drastically and the opening activity here today really celebrates that. And gives a home to a very important group within our community,” he said.
The anticipated completion date of the RJC is the first week of September, just in time for the fall Jewish New Year holy days.