Temple B'nai Israel, Shore Regional Health finalize property sale

The Star Democrat

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Temple B'nai Israel, Shore Regional Health finalize property sale

By JOSH BOLLINGER jbollinger@stardem.com

May 29, 2016

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From left: Eastonattorney Michael Kopen, University of Maryland Shore Regional Health Chief Financial Officer JoAnne Hahey, Temple B’nai Israel immediate past president Elaine Friedman, chairman of the temple’s board of directors Arna Meyer-Mickelson, Rabbi Peter Hyman, temple president Frank Menditch, member Barry Koh and treasurer Norm Bell at Kopen’s office in Easton, where the sale of a 7-acre property off state Route 322 in Easton was finalized on Friday, May 27.

Photo by Josh Bollinger

jbollinger@stardem.com

EASTON — It’s official. Temple B’nai Israel owns a 7-acre property off the Easton bypass, which will serve as the congregation’s new home.

The papers that made it official were signed Friday, May 27. The property off the bypass, state Route 322, at the intersection of Triston Lane was purchased from the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, which attorney Michael Kopen said was conveyed to the hospital system in 1979.

The temple is currently a neighbor of the Shore Medical Center at Easton. Temple B’nai Israel’s congregation has outgrown its synagogue at 101 W. Earle Ave., which stands in the back corner of the hospital’s property off South Washington Street.

According to the temple’s website, the process to find a new home started in 2008, when Rabbi Peter Hyman came on board as the temple’s full-time rabbi and the board of directors started a committee and surveyed the congregation for future planning guidance.

It was evident the congregation outgrew its current location near downtown Easton. The building was built in 1951 and isn’t handicap accessible. Discussions with the hospital on buying the property off Route 322 began several years ago.

Temple B’nai Israel serves five counties on the Eastern Shore — Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot — as well as nearby Delaware.

The planned synagogue has a new name — Temple B’nai Israel, the Satell Center for Jewish Life on the Eastern Shore. According to the temple’s website, it’s planned to be a hub for its religious, cultural, social and educational activities.

Frank Menditch, president of Temple B’nai Israel, said architecture plans for the new synagogue are finished. They plan to start site development on the property and surcharging soil within a month, which “in this case, it’ll mean piling a lot of dirt on it and letting it compress the soil,” he said.

The 9,400-sqaure-foot building — which is being paid for through donations from the congregation — will have modern classrooms and meetings rooms, and will be handicap accessible, Menditch said. The synagogue will be built by Willow Construction.

“We’re very happy that we’re able to have a local construction company work with us on constructing this exciting religious facility,” he said, adding that the site design was done by Lane Engineering.

Hyman said they plan to continue with “the rich program that we’ve done over the years,” but the expansion includes a new social hall to afford an increased opportunity for a number of private and community events that weren’t necessarily able to happen in the old synagogue.

Menditch said the new building also will incorporate energy-efficient features, including tankless water heaters, LED lighting and low-emissivity glass, which reflects heat and solar energy.

JoAnne Hahey, chief financial officer of the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, said the hospital system is excited to be a part of making Temple B’nai Israel’s plans happen, adding it has been a great neighbor to the hospital.

“We are pleased that, through this property purchase, a part of the site we own on the bypass will become the home of a vibrant spiritual and educational center for Temple B’nai Israel, who are our friends and hospital neighbors,” she said. “Congratulations to the temple for their vision and growth.”

“We’re very pleased with the cooperation the hospital has performed in selling us this property,” Menditch said. “They really didn’t have to do it, and they did it because they believe we’re a strong community partner.”