By DAVID BORAKS
The Lake Norman area’s newly merged Jewish congregation Temple Kol Tikvah is taking a big leap, buying an existing church building on South Street in Davidson to become the region’s first synagogue.
Temple Kol Tikvah closed July 23 on the $530,000 purchase of Calvary Presbyterian Church and 4.5 acres at 605 South St., next to Davidson Elementary School.
The Calvary congregation has dwindled in recent years to just a handful of members, and the building has been used as a sort of community center in recent years, offering space to other churches, scouts, a Montessori School and the local Jewish congregation.
Local Jews have been looking for a permanent place of worship for several years, and Temple Kol Tikvah spiritual leader Rabbi Michael Shields has often expressed a preference to be in Davidson. Buying Calvary Presbyterian achieves that, and gives the Jewish community new roots here.
“It’s the first synagogue in this area since the 1880s, when the Statesville congregation was established,” Rabbi Shields said.
Added Slade Goldstein, co-president of Temple Kol Tikvah: “For some people, if you don’t have a building, they’re not so sure there’s an organization they’re going to find roots in. It creates a foundation for the Jewish community in the lake region.”
The Reform Lake Norman Jewish Congregation and Conservative Beth Shalom of Lake Norman announced June 11 that they would merge in a move aimed at strengthening the region’s Jewish community. The merger creates a Reform congregation of about 175 families.
The Lake Norman Jewish Congregation has been meeting mainly at Fairview United Methodist Church, off NC 115 in Mount Mourne, as well as occasionally at Davidson College. Beth Shalom met at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Davidson.
The possibility of acquiring the Calvary building actually was among the drivers for the merger, Rabbi Shields said. He said the former Lake Norman Jewish Congregation had been looking for a permanent home for four years, since he arrived.
“So when this opportunity came up, a connection was made with the other congregation in town (Beth Shalom of Lake Norman), and we really realized that over the last number of years, we’ve both grown and had great success. We had so many of the same goals that coming together to achieve those future goals together made so much sense,” he said.
Slade Goldstein, co-president of Kol Tikvah, agreed. “There was some motivation in coming together as a single congregation to know that we were working together to have a home,” he said.
The congregations began a $750,000 fundraising campaign in March to pay for the building and renovations. Mr. Goldstein said they’ve already raised $525,000 – 65 percent of the total. He said that’s a sign of how strongly local Jews feel about having a temple.
Rabbi Shields said the new temple will become “a second nucleus” for the jewish community in the Charlotte region. “We hope to be a voice of hope for the future of jewish life in the Lake Norman region,” he said.
He also noted that the building will remain “a sacred space,” and that current users will still be able use the building. “We hope to continue having this space be something sacred for our community but also for the community of Davidson,” the rabbi said.
Temple officials say they’ll repair and renovate the building this fall, and hope to have a dedication in the new year, perhaps February. Mr. Goldstein said the group would hold some services there in the coming weeks until renovations begin.
The future Jewish temple is also nearby another new religious center. The Davidson Friends Meeting is completing renovations on the house next door as its new Meeting House.
Temple Kol Tivah of Lake Norman website, www.templekoltikvah.org.
June 26, 2012, “Merging Jewish groups pick a name: Temple Kol Tikvah”
June 11, 2012, “Lake Area Jewish groups combining as one congregation.”
June 2, 2010, “Groups find a home at Calvary Church”
WANT TO HELP?
To find out more about Temple Kol Tikvah, or to make a contribution to the capital campaign, contact Slade Godlstein, firstname.lastname@example.org