On Sun., Jan. 12, the Eastside Torah Center said goodbye to its small, too-crowded space on 156th Ave. NE in Bellevue and hello to its newly built facility at 16199 Northup Way, just a half mile up the road.
The dedication of the new Eastside Torah Center had been a long time coming, following five years of planning, build-out and fundraising to the tune of $4.5 million.
At the Sunday ceremony, Rabbi Mordechai Farkash described his search for the original location of Chabad’s Eastside facility in 2002.
“I was driving around with one of the senior Chabad rabbis of Seattle, Rabbi Kafka, looking for different places and somehow, as we are standing by the light at Northup and 156th, we saw a sign for rent at the corner window,” Rabbi Farkash indicated to the crowd of people standing around the bima. “We went upstairs and it was a small, 900-square-foot room shared with many other offices, but was available for rent which I thought, at that time, would feed my budget. My budget was zero.”
The ceremony continued with the removal of the synagogue’s Torahs from the old ark and a procession along Northup Way to the new center. A ribbon-cutting ceremony welcomed members into the new building and the Torahs were placed into their new aron kodesh.
With more than 500 involved families, the new center’s expanded space allows for more programming and includes an outside playground and approximately 50 parking spaces. More parking is also available at the church next door.
In addition to offices and a beit midrash, a space for learning, the synagogue now houses the Eastside Jewish Public Library and has classrooms and a large recreation room with couches and Ping-Pong tables for the Torah Center’s CTeen Club.