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For the First Time Since the 1890s, Central Iowa Will Have No Orthodox Jewish Synagogue

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Kind of a lemonade-from-lemons story.

For the First Time Since the 1890s, Central Iowa Will Have No Orthodox Jewish Synagogue

Tony Leys, tleys@dmreg.com
6:37 p.m. CST December 16, 2016
For the first time since at least the 1890s, the Des Moines area soon will be without an Orthodox Jewish synagogue.

The Beth El Jacob congregation, which has shrunk over several decades, is selling its west-side Des Moines building. Once the sale is final, the Orthodox congregation plans to move into vacant space at the city's Reform synagogue, Temple B'Nai Jeshurun, which belongs to the most liberal major branch of Judaism.

The Orthodox synagogue's leaders said the decision was painful, but necessary. The congregation was roughly five times its current size when the synagogue opened in 1957.

"A lot of things have happened in that building, really important life events," said board President Sidney Jacobson. Many families trace their membership to the Eastern European immigrants who founded the congregation in 1885 and opened its first freestanding synagogue in 1893. Members will leave behind cherished memories of weddings, funerals and bar and bat mitzvahs.

But the leaders decided the 32,000-square-foot synagogue, on Cummins Parkway south of University Avenue, is much too big and expensive for an 80-family congregation. The utilities alone run about $2,200 per month. "We have to get out from under the ball and chain of the building and move forward," Jacobson said.

Rabbi David Kaufman, who leads Temple B'Nai Jeshurun, believes it's important to retain an Orthodox option in the area. Kaufman's more liberal Reform synagogue didn't hesitate to offer space to the smaller Orthodox congregation.
"The reality is this is about creating a vibrant community," Kaufman said.
Story continues here:

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Is the Synagogue the building, or the place where the followers gather? I understand the story, but there is still a small population of Orthodox Jews there and they will still be meeting, albeit in a different location.


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Probably the presumed assumption is "no more stand-alone synagogue building."

Not sure if a synagogue building has to be sanctified or undergo blessings before it becomes a formal synagogue.


06-04-2007 = TSC stamps postal return-receipt for I-129f.

06-11-2007 = NOA1 date (unknown to me).

07-20-2007 = Phoned Immigration Officer; got WAC#; where's NOA1?

09-25-2007 = Touch (first-ever).

09-28-2007 = NOA1, 23 days after their 45-day promise to send it (grrrr).

10-20 & 11-14-2007 = Phoned ImmOffs; "still pending."

12-11-2007 = 180 days; file is "between workstations, may be early Jan."; touches 12/11 & 12/12.

12-18-2007 = Call; file is with Division 9 ofcr. (bckgrnd check); e-prompt to shake it; touch.

12-19-2007 = NOA2 by e-mail & web, dated 12-18-07 (187 days; 201 per VJ); in mail 12/24/07.

01-09-2008 = File from USCIS to NVC, 1-4-08; NVC creates file, 1/15/08; to consulate 1/16/08.

01-23-2008 = Consulate gets file; outdated Packet 4 mailed to fiancee 1/27/08; rec'd 3/3/08.

04-29-2008 = Fiancee's 4-min. consular interview, 8:30 a.m.; much evidence brought but not allowed to be presented (consul: "More proof! Second interview! Bring your fiance!").

05-05-2008 = Infuriating $12 call to non-English-speaking consulate appointment-setter.

05-06-2008 = Better $12 call to English-speaker; "joint" interview date 6/30/08 (my selection).

06-30-2008 = Stokes Interrogations w/Ecuadorian (not USC); "wait 2 weeks; we'll mail her."

07-2008 = Daily calls to DOS: "currently processing"; 8/05 = Phoned consulate, got Section Chief; wrote him.

08-07-08 = E-mail from consulate, promising to issue visa "as soon as we get her passport" (on 8/12, per DHL).

08-27-08 = Phoned consulate (they "couldn't find" our file); visa DHL'd 8/28; in hand 9/1; through POE on 10/9 with NO hassles(!).

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