As natural light peeked through the stained glass windows of the new sanctuary Aug. 10 at Green Road Synagogue in Beachwood, the dedication event for its new building, the Gittel and Zvi Weiss z”l Building, focused on the idea of creating a home – one where the Jewish community can live, flourish and thrive for generations.
Following a $12.5 million construction project, the in-person event featured speeches by synagogue leadership, including Rabbi Binyamin Blau and synagogue president Adena Klineman; building committee chair Steve Soclof; honorary chair Morry Weiss of the Weiss family; and Marco Ciccarelli of studio TECHNE Architects of Cleveland, the architectural firm for the project.
Beachwood High School 2021 graduate Jacob Pincus’ documentary film, “Make Me A Sanctuary,” was also shown. The 16-minute film details the life of the congregation that built Green Road Synagogue’s original building in 1973, and the decision to demolish and rebuild the synagogue. The video featured interviews with current and past synagogue leaders, current congregation members and Holocaust survivors Sarah and Louis Radzeli, who have since died, and in whose memory the film was dedicated. Synagogue leadership plans to add the film to their archives.
Klineman served as emcee for the event, addressing the crowd with many thanks for their support. Referencing the project tagline, “honoring our past and building for our future,” she acknowledged the synagogue’s roots and how that informs the future.
“We knew that with a growing, and truly younger congregation, our aging facility could no longer meet our needs,” she said. “At the same time, we loved elements of our building as well as the history of our congregation. We did not want to lose our heritage and legacy, particularly as the builders of the original building were Holocaust survivors, determined that their kehilla should live on and flourish. This building is a testament to the founders of our synagogue, as well as our current congregation who is planning for our future.”
To mark the occasion of the completion of the building, the synagogue is commissioning a plaque to express its gratitude and looks forward to designing a permanent dedication in Soclof’s honor for the work he did in getting the synagogue to where it is today.
Soclof recalled the congregation’s first Shabbat in the new building on Oct. 19, 2020, and how it has set the tone for its future.
“For me, it was truly a special time, as it was hours before we were granted an occupancy permit to use the building,” he said. “I never imagined I would experience our first davening from the courtyard, on the outside looking in. ... It was like a breath of fresh air was breathed into it, and brought it to life. ... It is an incredible feeling watching this building being flexed and used to its fullest.
“Tonight, I stand before you confident that we will proudly carry forward our legacy in our new home to future generations. Long live the nation of Israel, and long live Green Road Synagogue.”
In addressing attendees, Weiss said it has been a “great year” for the synagogue, explaining the new shul is named in memory of his late parents, Gittel and Zvi Weiss. That family component is everything for him, he said, allowing him to reflect back on the role Green Road Synagogue has had in his life.
“The question becomes as you move on – ‘what is my obligation? What is your obligation?’” he asked attendees. “It is to make sure that which we had when (my wife and I) were newlyweds, that we continue this effort, to make sure that future generations have the same opportunities, can live in a community at least as good as we did, and maybe even a better one. We’re privileged to have been able to raise our family as part of Green Road Synagogue.”
As Blau moved to close the event, he presented Klineman with a commemorative plaque honoring her time as synagogue president. He also addressed attendees, saying he’s had such pride taking people through the building and showing “every careful step of creation.”
“What is important, as wonderful and magnificent this building is, is what we do in it each day,” he said. “The vitality, the vibrancy, the life – it’s our home. ... Our task, our mission, our challenge is to maintain our energy tomorrow, the day after and for all years to come. We’re up to the challenge.”
Honorary chairs of the event were the Gross Family, the Stark family and the Weiss Family. Event hosts were Steven and Edith Greenberg, Jonny and Adena Klineman, and Steven and Michal Soclof.
Green Road Synagogue is at 2437 S. Green Road.