The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation has approved a matching commitment of $16 million toward a major expansion and renovation of The Temple-Tifereth Israel’s Beachwood campus at 26000 Shaker Blvd.
Rabbi Richard A. Block, The Temple’s senior rabbi, announced the lead gift toward the $32 million campaign at The Temple’s annual meeting June 9 in Beachwood. The gift is in memory of Jack and Lilyan Mandel, longtime members of The Temple, which also has a facility in University Circle in Cleveland.
The campaign will include $24 million for expansion and renovation of the Beachwood campus and $8 million to increase The Temple’s endowment. Block said the Mandel Foundation gift is “tremendously exciting and encouraging.”
“This gift and this campaign will allow us to offer new programs and create enhanced facilities tailored to our growing needs,” Block said. “The Temple-Tifereth Israel is poised to begin a new chapter in its history, and we are very grateful for the generosity of the Mandel Foundation.
“This is truly a historic contribution. It shows a tremendous depth of love and commitment on the part of the Mandel family for the congregation.”
Morton Mandel, chairman and CEO of the Mandel Foundation, and his wife, Barbara, are members of The Temple. He said the gift honors his brother, Jack, a philanthropist and successful businessman and a life trustee of The Temple, who died in 2011 at age 99.
“This is exactly what Jack would have done had he still been here,” Mandel said. “He would have seen this gift as a wonderful opportunity to support an institution that influences and enhances thousands of lives.”
The Mandel Foundation will match whatever dollar amount The Temple is able to raise, up to $16 million, Mandel said.
“We want to really strengthen Jewish life in general and Jewish life in Cleveland in particular,” he said. “One of the major underpinnings of meaningful Jewish life is synagogues and temples, and in this case we knew about a needed expansion to this building, which was not built as the main synagogue of The Temple-Tifereth Israel.
“We knew a major undertaking was necessary to support the efforts of the congregation, and we are pleased to help make The Temple’s ambitious new vision a reality."
Block said details of the expansion and renovation have not been determined, but he added, “We have a good idea in general of the needs we have.
“The intent is to ensure that the facility enables us to implement the vision we have for the future of the congregation,” he said. “This facility in Beachwood was originally created to be a suburban Sunday school location. It was never envisioned that it would become the center of life for a 1,500-family congregation.”
The Temple was established in 1850 as Tifereth Israel, Cleveland’s first Reform synagogue. For many years, The Temple was based in University Circle, and the facility there is still used by the congregation for High Holy Day services, major congregational occasions and some life-cycle events.
In 1969, the congregation built the branch campus in Beachwood to house its religious school. Over time, this site has become the congregation’s center of worship, education, programming and outreach.
“Gradually, it’s expanded,” Block said. “Even so, it just isn't adequate in terms of its size and the various kinds of learning and worship spaces we have. While it’s beautiful and well built, there is significant renovation that’s needed as a result of aging and wear and tear on the building.
“Also, we have an opportunity to make the building more accessible in terms of parking and other forms of access to make it more environmentally responsive and to rethink how space within the building, both existing and new, will be designed and allocated.”
Temple president Jeanne Tobin said the board of trustees formally adopted a new vision for The Temple two years ago. But it then realized making the vision a reality would require a significant investment to upgrade and expand the Beachwood campus.
“We felt our building and our landscape should be a physical embodiment of our vision,” Tobin said. “But when we inventoried all our unmet needs, including our commitment to provide for renewal and maintenance, we faced a total reaching almost $32 million.
“Clearly, that would have been a daunting challenge had the Mandel Foundation not come forward. We are blessed to be the beneficiary of the Mandel Foundation’s generous gift.”
Bob Allenick, The Temple’s executive director, said the board asked the Albert M. Higley Co. to conduct an exhaustive audit of the Beachwood facility to determine how to update and expand it to meet the congregation’s growing needs.
“We looked at everything from our sanctuary, classrooms and meeting space to our HVAC systems, other mechanicals and even our parking lot,” Allenick said. “We knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put the foundation in place that will not only serve our current congregation, but their children and grandchildren as well.”
Based on Higley’s assessment, the board hired Connecticut-based Centerbrook Architects to begin developing plans for the new campus.
“One of the reasons we selected Centerbrook was their inclusive style of work in the design process,” Allenick said. “That means there will be active involvement by temple leadership, congregants, clergy and staff.”
The process will begin with a series of workshops Centerbrook will facilitate with congregants, Tobin said.
Bruce Goodman, who preceded Tobin as The Temple’s president, will chair the building side of the project, Tobin said.
“We are thrilled that Bruce will be leading this process,” she said. “He served as chair of the committee which interviewed and chose the architect and is very engaged in moving this exciting project forward.”
Beverly Gans, The Temple’s new development director, will work with the board to help launch the matching portion of the campaign, Allenick said. Gans previously served as vice president for the Montefiore Foundation.
Amy Kaplan, another past temple president, will chair the campaign committee. She will work with temple leadership and Gans to determine the parameters of the campaign, Allenick said.
The design process and fundraising campaign both will begin “shortly,” Block said.
“No definite dates have been established, but I’m hopeful we can begin construction in a year or so and have the entire project completed within two or three years,” he said. “There’s a lot of work yet to be done.”
Morton Mandel, 91, lives in Bratenahl. He and his brothers, Jack and Joseph, founded Premier Industrial Corp. in 1940 and established the Mandel Foundation in 1953. Joseph Mandel, 99, lives in Moreland Hills.