Bedek HaBayit restores and renovates neglected synagogues in Israel to re-establish them as valuable community spaces.
There are a plethora of neglected and dilapidated synagogues in Israel. These synagogues where built by the state in the 1930s-50s era as responses to the Shoah and anti-Semitism, but were privatized years ago. Today, they are beyond the capacity of the private congregations to clean and maintain.
To address this issue Bedek HaBayit was created nearly a decade ago by the former Haifa Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Yosef She'ar Yashuv Cohen in coordination with RHIF, employing a model developed at Columbia University and Technion. Bedek HaBayit restores dilapidated synagogues in Israel and re-establishes them as valuable community spaces to be used by charities, NGOs and philanthropies. Furthermore, Bedek HaBayit helps refurbish excessively large synagogues that can no longer be maintained by the community. Bedek HaBayit creatively renovates these synagogues with a smaller sanctuary and more space for other uses, such as administrative offices, but in such a way that the sanctuaries can still be enlarged for the High Holy Days.
Despite the self-evident value of this project, it has met with significant resistance from local Rabbinates who would rather see the synagogues deteriorate to a point of no return so that the land can be sold to developers for a profit.
Bedek HaBayit utilizes Robin Hood Israel's crowd funding platform to restore these synagogues and in so doing ensures they retain their value to the community. We are presently working on completing 2 projects in Netanya, and individual projects in Ra’anana, Ashkelon and Beer Sheva.
The Great Synagogue of Haifa: This was Bedek HaBayit’s first project and involved writing a business plan for the synagogue’s post renovation activities and undertaking a full renovation. The architectural plans include: a renovated Prayer Hall to seat 500; a Wedding Hall for 500-1,000 guests; and the establishment of a Heritage Center which will include 3 lecture halls, a Judaica Library and a Judaica Museum that will serve the general public of Haifa and the Israeli North.
Tel Aviv International Synagogue: Bedek HaBayit restored and renovated the synagogue, undertaking essential cleaning (it had not been cleaned in 70 years), and structural works to transform it into a working synagogue with multi-purpose capabilities. It now has a thriving international congregation.
New Synagogue of Netanya, MacDonald’s: Bedek HaBayit oversaw the full renovation of the synagogue including essential cleaning (the synagogue had not been cleaned in 70 years), electrical re-wiring, the installation of 14 air conditioners, new pews, and the establishment of an in-door ladies restroom and Gan Yeladim.