B'nai Israel to move into Knights of Columbus hall

March 05, 1995|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

A Jewish congregation will soon be worshiping in a building owned by a Catholic fraternal organization.

The first floor of the three-story Knights of Columbus hall in Sykesville will become B'nai Israel synagogue at the end of the month.

"We will have all our services there, and it will be our facility," said Cantor Al Stein, spiritual leader of the congregation.

B'nai Israel has signed a long-term lease for the space with the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Council, which has owned the building since 1991.

The congregation, established two years ago, had outgrown its meeting place at 1533 Liberty Road. Members began a search for a larger space about a month ago.

Once they had talked with Peter O'Sullivan, a real estate agent and member of the Knights council, they did not have to look far or long. "The Knights found us," said Cantor Stein.

The council's board of directors voted unanimously to lease B'nai Israel 1,000 square feet, the entire first floor of the hall at 7560 Main St. "It is an ideal space for their worship needs," said Tom Partenope, grand knight of the 240-member council. "We will be living eclectically. There is so much we can learn from each other."

The council will move its activities to the second and third floors of the century-old building, which it has refurbished.

"We are moving to Sykesville, to a more beautiful facility to give our congregation a more comfortable atmosphere," said Cantor Stein. "The building will serve all purposes for our congregation."

The congregation has signed a five-year lease for the space, which can accommodate about 150 people and is accessible to the disabled. The lease includes a meeting area on the mezzanine.

"With better facilities, we will be able to have better quality to our services," said Cantor Stein. "We will have room to grow even larger than we are."

Cantor Stein and Gabbai Stephen Lebson will conduct the first service in the town on March 31. Members are also planning a Passover Seder service at 6:30 p.m. April 15.

"We are renting space that was not being used effectively and providing a place of worship to people who desperately needed it," said Valerie Piechocki, public relations director for the council.

"It says a lot about working together in a spirit of openness and acceptance in a community represented by different people from different backgrounds."

B'nai Israel becomes the fifth religious denomination in Sykesville, a town of 3,000 residents.

Mr. Partenope called the move "a display of the spirit of ecumenism in action."

Craig Taylor, president of the Sykesville Business Association, said the synagogue is one more step in the revitalization of downtown. "This will be really nice for Sykesville," said Mr. Taylor. "More families will come here not only to worship, but to get to know our town."

Dedication of the new synagogue is set for 2 p.m. April 9 and is open to all, said Cantor Stein.

Information: 549-4099.

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