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Celebration! Installation! Dedication!

The weekend of June 9 - 12, 2022 was the celebration long overdue.  We were very excited to finally have the opportunity to officially install Chaya Bender as our Rabbi and welcome her, her wife Emily Jaeger and their daughter Shlomi to our community.  Since July 2020, Rabbi Bender has successfully led us through the unchartered waters of maintaining and growing our congregation during a global pandemic.  Throughout this time, she found ways to bring us together, completely online at first and gradually, as the pandemic allowed, in person.  It was a time of fear, isolation and great uncertainty.  Rabbi Bender kept us engaged, offering upbeat services and a wide variety of programs. 

The dedication of our new sanctuary is a truly exciting event.  The countless hours of hard work from many members of the congregation, as well as the architects and contractors, are evident in the beauty of the room.  Their commitment, foresight, persistence and grit in transforming the sanctuary has created an inspirational place of warmth and spirituality. 

The Ruach, a Jewish band from Charlotte, NC, provided entertainment Thursday night and was an integral part of the Friday night Shabbat Service.  The band's mission is to spread the joy of Judaism through new Jewish music.  

Thank you to the Celebration! committee who worked so hard to make the weekend a success:

Amy DeLoach, Chair

Debbie Smith

Jon Alper

Susan Turner

Michelle Bannon

Barbara  Waxman

Rabbi Chaya Bender

Laurel Westreich

Diane Gerberg

Leigh Winter

Terry Jensen

Walter Winter

Pam Sender

Felice Zeldin

Joelle Serot  


Thanks also to Yvonne Jones, Trish McLean & Tina Sacramone for their invaluable assistance.  

Click here to see the Tribute Journal

Click here to read Rabbi Waxman's speech for the Installation of Rabbi Chaya Bender

Click here to read Rabbi Barry Kenter's tribute to Rabbi Chaya Bender



Sanctuary Renovation

And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.      Exodus 25:8



In the beginning, God sent us a freak rainstorm that ransacked the sanctuary; and then just to make sure that we were paying attention, she followed it up with Hurricane Florence.  In September 2018, due to damages sustained from Hurricane Florence, it was necessary to completely repair and renovate the Sanctuary.  

Barry Weiss, Synagogue President, put together a committee for the renovation of the sanctuary.  The first thing the design committee did was to create a survey for the congregation to provide input on what they wanted in a new sanctuary. Those priorities were handicap accessibility, better lighting, better audio, and comfortable pews. At the congregational meeting in December of 2019, the renovation plans were approved and in June 2020, Bnai Israel had a building permit.  

Demolition began and it was discovered that painted on the cinderblock wall, above the Ark and underneath the old paneling, were the Hebrew words, Know Before Whom You Stand. Not only are these words profound, but they are also a legacy at Bnai Israel that have been passed down from generation to generation. These words have graced our Ark since this building was completed in 1954 and you can now see them every time you enter this sanctuary.  

The sanctuary renovation was completed in April 2022.  This was a long project filled with both expected and unexpected challenges.  The transformation of the sanctuary includes a breathtaking ceiling featuring the Star of David, an expanded handicap accessible bimah and two new Torah niches.  The Ark doors now match the Tree of Life stained glass windows.  The Ark itself contains our Torahs, all dressed with new mantles for Shabbat and holiday services.  If you look closely at the Torah covers, you will find words like Bnai Israel, Generation to Generation, Tree of Life, Shema, Act of Loving Kindness, Sing unto God and Let there be Light. New High Holiday Torah mantles were donated by Sisterhood.  Both lecturns, the carpeting and all the pews were also replaced.  Sisterhood and Men's Club donated the new bimah chairs.  New prayerbooks accompanied this renovation and help to make the Sanctuary a truly serene and inspirational place of worship. 

Yasher Koach to the Renovation Committee for their spirit, enthusiasm and perseverance to designing a beautiful and meaningful sanctuary:

Pam Sender, Chair

Rena Goldwasser

Harold Eichenholz

Bruce Mauer

Dottie Freedland

Carolyn Moskowitz

Diane Gerberg

Barry Weiss

Lyne Glaser



Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary; Pure and holy, tried and true

And with thanksgiving, I'll be a living sanctuary for you

Ve'asu li mikdash veshachanti betocham.

Ve'anachnu nevarech yah me'atah ve'ad olam


Click here to read the sanctuary dedication speech by Pam Sender

Click here to see the video from WWAY TV News on the sanctuary dedication



Capital Campaign 2020 - 2022

What started out as repairing the sanctuary from Hurricane Florence, soon became the opportunity to re-design the sanctuary to create a modern, beautiful and spiritual space for prayer and congregating.  While the insurance money would cover the basics, there was a need for more money to achieve the desired upgrades and enhancements. 

While fundraising of this magnitude can be a challenge, Bnai Israel was lucky to have Lyne Glaser, who has a professional background in fundraising.  The Capital Campaign was born.  The first step was creating a committee who understood the concept of "doing, giving and inviting" others to join along.  This campaign gave Bnai Israel members the opportunity to do a mitzvah and contribute to the growth of Bnai Israel.  More than 55 members generously donated and raised over $200,000.  The renovated sanctuary truly is built with love from the Bnai Israel community.  A Capital Campaign Wall of Recognition will hang in the sanctuary as a legacy of those who donated.  

Yasher Koach to the Capital Campaign committee for their amazing work in raising over $200,000! These funds made it possible to add finishing touches to the sanctuary as well as creating a reserve fund for future Capital needs. 

Lyne Glaser, Chair

Jerry Smith z"l

Jon Alper

Barbara Waxman

Harold Eichenholz

Rabbi Robert Waxman

Alan Gerberg

Barry Weiss

Diane Gerberg

Laurel Westreich

Rena Goldwasser

Walter Winter


Click here to read the sanctuary dedication speech by Lyne Glaser

Click here for a complete list of Capital Campaign Gifts (as of May 2022)


Mon, May 20 2024 12 Iyyar 5784