Almost 60 years since its formal dedication at 7504 Seven Mile Lane, Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim isn’t just getting a facelift — it’s getting a brand-new building, on the property next to the current one.
The groundbreaking will take place Feb. 20, but services will continue in the original building until the new one is ready for use, after which point the site of the original structure will be transformed into the synagogue’s parking lot.
“Thank God, we will have no disruption of services or classes or anything up until the time that we’re actually ready to move into our new building,” Rabbi Shmuel Silber said in a phone interview last week.
David S. Brown Enterprises, which is serving as the developer, project that the new building will take one to one -and-a-half years to complete, according to the rabbi.
“We are a growing and vibrant shul, thank God, even over the course of the pandemic,” Silber said. He estimated the synagogue’s current membership to be about 450 households. “We need a building that is capable first of all of reflecting our current vitality and also giving us room to grow and expand both in numbers as well as in programming and offerings in the future.”
Along with a sanctuary and social hall, the new building will feature an expanded beit midrash for classes, additional classrooms for children’s programming, offices for current and future administrative staff, and men’s and women’s mikvahs. There will also be a “beautiful” enclosed courtyard at the center of the building to serve as a space for the synagogue’s outdoor programming.
Additionally, the new site will feature an ambulance bay built in collaboration with Hatzalah of Baltimore. Essentially a garage in the synagogue parking lot for keeping an ambulance and related supplies, “having a place to operate on this side of the community, I think, will enhance their response time and ability to service the greater community,” Silber said.
Silber declined to share exactly how much the building campaign raised since its launch about a year before the onset of the pandemic. He said there is fundraising still to do to cover the full cost of the plans.
If the building campaign’s page on the synagogue website is accurate, though, over four million dollars have been raised so far and there is less than $2.8 million to go.
“We are fortunate to have seen an incredible and overwhelming beautiful response from our congregation and from the greater community as well,” he said.