Har Sinai considers relocation sites Congregation led by Jewish demographic trends to Baltimore Co.

October 18, 1995|By JAY APPERSON | JAY APPERSON,SUN STAFF

Pushing ahead with plans to move out of Baltimore, the historic Har Sinai congregation is eyeing at least two potential sites in northwest Baltimore County.

Members of Har Sinai, the nation's oldest Reform Jewish congregation, have been asked to evaluate a site at Greenspring Avenue and Walnut Avenue in Worthington Valley, and another near the congregation's cemetery on Garrison Forest Road near Owings Mills.

Dr. Robert K. Brookland, president of the congregation, stressed that Har Sinai's search committee has not settled on those properties as finalists in the search.

He said they were presented to survey the membership on the parcels' accessibility, along with other features that would be important for the new location.

"We were really trying to get more of a sense of general concepts, rather than, 'It's come down to these two sites,' because there are a couple of other sites we're interested in also," said Dr. Brookland, a radiation oncologist at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

He declined to identify the other two sites but said they are north of Greenspring Valley Road, between Falls and Reisterstown roads. More properties could be considered, he added.

The congregation hopes to buy 12 to 15 acres for the relocation next year, Har Sinai officials said.

Administrative offices and classrooms would be built first.

Dr. Brookland said the congregation, which includes about 600 families, could continue to worship at its sanctuary at 6300 Park Heights Ave. in Baltimore until a new sanctuary is built in the county.

In January, congregation members overwhelmingly approved a plan to sell the Park Heights Avenue property.

The vote was scheduled after Har Sinai received an offer from an Orthodox Jewish organization, the Maimonides Academy, to buy that property for $4 million.

Congregation leaders looked to the county, where more and more Jewish families have been moving.

Dr. Brookland said that of members who have joined Har Sinai in recent years, about 40 percent live in the Reisterstown and Owings Mills area, and about 40 percent live farther east in communities such as Cockeys- ville.

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