After 50 years, the building that served as the home of the youth programs of Seattle’s Congregation Bikur Cholim – Machzikay Hadath (BCMH) will be torn down for a brand new youth center. The groundbreaking event is scheduled to take place on Sunday, January 25 at 10 a.m. at 5145 South Morgan Street.
The building was originally constructed in 1964 as a temporary home for the Yavneh congregation, a satellite branch of Congregation Bikur Cholim, Seattle’s oldest synagogue, while it moved from its original structure in Seattle’s Central District to its current building in Seward Park. Once the move was completed, the building, known as Yavneh, became the home of BCMH’s thriving youth programs, which included day camps, Shabbat and holiday programs as well as the Seattle chapter of NCSY, the Orthodox Union’s international youth movement. Yavneh also became the temporary home of the Seattle Hebrew Academy after the 2001 earthquake devastated its facility.
But 50 years is a long time for any building, especially one that was only created as a temporary structure. Recently, due to age and wear, programming and NCSY events were moved into portable units outside the youth building.
Ari Hoffman, youth director of BCMH and director of Seattle NCSY explained: “To continue having our well-renowned youth program and camps a new building is a necessity. On Shabbat when there is a lot going on at BCMH with multiple minyanim and classes, there just isn’t enough space for everyone.”
In November 2013, the BCMH board procured plans and permits for a new youth building and set a fundraising goal of $150,000. On December 1, 2014, BCMH received the green light from the membership to hire a contractor to break ground.“Yavneh served us well and for much, much longer than those who had it built could ever have expected,” said Dan Birk, president of the congregation. “Our new BCMH youth center will God willing serve us equally well for just as long and hopefully longer.”
The new youth center to be built on the former Yavneh location will encompass 5,613 square feet on two floors including five classrooms, a large multipurpose space, teen lounge, offices for youth staff, kitchen, youth beit midrash and a space for a Sukkah.
After Shabbat ended on December 6, thirty teenagers assembled in their old home. “Yavneh was more than a building, it was like a friend to us,” said Salvo Behar, 14, a member of Seattle NCSY. “There are more memories in here than I could ever count, and all of them good.”
After a dinner of grilled burgers and ribs, the teens suited up in white overalls, protective glasses and hard hats. “It’s traumatic to the kids to lose Yavneh,” said Mr. Hoffman. “I thought it would be therapeutic to make them a part of the process.” He handed the teens sledgehammers and after a series of sternly-issued safety instructions, gave them the go-ahead to begin knocking down walls.
A major anonymous donor for the project will be naming the building for the child victims of the Shoah and victims of the terrorist attacks in Israel.
Donations towards the completion of the new BCMH youth building are being accepted. For more information please contact Ari Hoffman at email@example.com themikereport.com contributed to this release.