Welcome to the Congregation Or Hadash building web page! This is the place for news, information, photos and discussions about our new home. Together, we are building our first permanent home. Comments are welcome, leave yours today!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Our Building-Our Future: Builders' Club Chorus

Shabbat is back and I am thrilled to speak
The Capital Campaign has had a good week
We're picking up steam and calling many of you
There are no secrets; you know what we want you to do

Give now if you have not participated as of yet
Helping us build our new home you will not regret
Increase your gift if you can find the way
And you will surely gladden this beautiful day

Adding a 6th year to your original pledge is indeed
The way for us to get closer to the amount we need
We've raised $4.1 million and we still can do better
Please respond at once to our call, email or letter

$5 million is the amount we need to build it complete
We'll have our own kitchen to make good things to eat
There will be classrooms and offices and coffee bars
Two rabbis' studies and room for all of our cars

Not to mention the Sanctuary and social hall too
We can't build it all without increased gifts from you
It is a once in a lifetime opportunity we have before us
Don't be left out of our Or Hadash builders' club chorus

Thanks and know that we appreciate all that you have done
We can't wait to cut the ribbon and celebrate with everyone
Sherry Frank, President

Our Building-Our Future: The Executive Director's Perspective

My first year as Executive Director of Or Hadash has been a whirlwind. When I started we had just found a property that would meet the needs of our new home and we were starting a capital campaign to fund the purchase of our Trowbridge property and construct our new home. Since then we have closed on our purchase, and almost paid off our purchase loan, engaged two extraordinary architects who are well underway with the design of our new home and thanks to the generosity of so many of you we have raised over $4.1 million! We just have a little more to go.

Or Hadash has a unique culture. We are egalitarian; we are inclusive; egos are parked at the door; Tikkun Olam and Chesed are apparent in everything we do; and everyone rows in the same direction. In a few short years we have become a force that is admired throughout our community because of what we do and the "Or Hadash" way that we do it. Being a part of it has been an extraordinary experience for me.

We have been in a marathon and are now nearing its completion. If we keep rowing together we can reach our $5 million goal and complete a new home that will give us pleasure and serenity for many years to come. Please join me in adding a 6th year to your pledge or making a new pledge if you haven't already done so. Remember everyone counts at Or

Bruce Warschoff

Our Building-Our Future: Reflections Over Pesach

Twas the morning of the first Seder night
I was very busy and my kitchen was a sight
Matzah balls were boiling and gefilte fish was chilling
Then I received a call that was really thrilling

Andy Kauss said be at my office, 1 o’clock is the time
We’re ready to get your signature on the dotted line
Steve Wertheim’s contacts with Sun Trust Bank truly showed
We were ready to purchase property on Trowbridge Road

Can you believe it was just one year ago this week
Of all that we have accomplished, I am proud to speak
Ma Nish Ta Nah our members soon will be saying
With visions of our future home where we’ll be praying

We’re not there yet, but we are getting closer every day
We are counting on you and you know just what to say
Yes, I will pledge if I have not done it yet
I can stretch my pledge to give more, you bet
I will add a 6th year because I clearly understand
$5 million is needed to build something really grand

At our Seder tables we will relive the Exodus story
We’ll ask questions and retell the plagues that were gory
We’ll remember the struggle and hardship and tears
We wander in the dessert for so many years
Thankful for the seas parting, we celebrate freedom and we eat
We conclude saying next year in Jerusalem, what a joyous treat

I wish you a happy Pesach and good times with family and friends too
It has been an historic journey I have traveled this year with each of you

Shabbat Shalom,

Sherry Frank, President

Our Building-Our Future: The Home Stretch

Shabbat is here and I'm back once more
With a different poem from the one before
I am focused on the Capital Campaign
This will sound like a familiar refrain

We're asking everyone to make a pledge, this is true
We are surely depending on each one of you
Increase your gift if you can find the way
We need everyone to stretch and do it today

Add a 6th year to your pledge if you haven't done it yet
And the closer to $5 million you will help us get

We have a few more weeks, but who is counting
We're calling, emailing and pressure is mounting

We have the architects' plans and they are great
Visions of our future home are cause to celebrate
We're raised over $4 million, and we're on a roll
Please help us get even closer to our goal

We are all volunteers trying to do our part
Don't delay any longer and give from the heart
Call the office, send an email or tell me anytime
That you are ready to participate....that's the end of my rhyme

Shabbat Shalom,

Sherry Frank

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Our Building-Our Future: Mah Nishtanah?

Why is this time different? 

The excitement generated by the Exodus of Egypt is a true testimony of faith and Divine-Human partnership.

Every year we prepare ourselves and our homes for the celebration of Pesach. There are memories from the past and joy for a refreshed opportunity to bring new customs and to refresh our spirits when the Spring Holiday of Freedom is coming.

Mah Nishatnah? How is this year different? As an extended family at Or Hadash, we have walked our own desert in a nomadic way, from social halls to churches, to Jewish day schools and high school. We have invited and still invite all those who are physically hungry and spiritually looking for a home to be part of our open tent. We have been telling our story and asking many different questions. We have been working very hard to move each step forward.

Mah Nishtanah? Why is this year different for our Or Hadash family? Because we are sitting around our table knowing that we have now a permanent home, a home we will build with and for each one of us. Each person counts and we count on each one of you. The Exodus was filled with questions, uncertainty and anxiety but hope and faith illuminate the light within the people.

This is an invitation to be part of this journey and to help us build a dream come true.

Pesach Kasher v'Sameach!

Rabbis Analia & Mario

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Our Building-Our Future: Building Progress Report

Aleph 4.037During the past nine months, we have had the honor of leading the capital campaign to help our Or Hadash community realize the vision of a new home. From our congregation's beginning, the culture and values of our community have been clear-- the importance of belonging to a truly spiritual community, the comfort of knowing there are others to celebrate times of joy and provide support at times of sadness, the exuberance of music and prayer, and the endless possibilities of learning, regardless of age or background. Like our unique community, it was clear from the start that our capital campaign and the building we create would also need to be uniquely Or Hadash - a home for communal worship, shared simchas, a place to break (and make) bread, watch our children grow into mensches and Jewish leaders, study, schmooze, or simply meditate in a spiritual Jewish space.

With the involvement of the majority of our community to date, we have been able to raise over $4 million. While cause for celebration, we are not "there" yet. As a community which respects the importance of each member, we look to each of our members to stand up and say "Hineni" and be a part of what we are building together. Excited by the vision of our new home which has engaged over 240 of our members, the input of an incredible building committee, and our two creative and visionary architects, we now turn back to our community to help us finish the task of raising the funds to realize our new spiritual home.

For those of you who have not yet participated in our efforts, we ask you to join in to help make our dream a reality. To those who have already pledged--THANK YOU! If you are able to add to your pledge or would consider adding a 6th year to your commitment, it will help us close the gap between what we have raised so far and what we need to finish the job.

Many of us started this Or Hadash journey seven years ago, with much uncertainty. Today we are a vibrant spiritual community on the threshold of realizing a spiritual home we can call our own. Thank you to everyone who has helped us to get to this point and thank you to those who are now stepping up to say "Hineni" and help us get the rest of the way.


Abby Friedman and Harry Heiman
Melinda and Steve Wertheim

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Our Building-Our Future: Our New Home

Our Building-Our Future: The Synagogue, A Member's Perspective

During Shabbat morning services, a few weeks ago, each aliyah was taken by someone celebrating a wonderful occasion, a celebratory milestone. The next day, I was back at Or Hadash, sadly, for a memorial service. As I was walking into the building, it occurred to me that there are not many places where we go both to celebrate the happiest occasions in life and to come together as a community for the saddest ones. A synagogue, a place of prayer, community and learning is very special in that way.

For me, the synagogue is like an envelope, gently wrapping itself around my family's life, nurturing spirituality, holiness and responsibility. It was within this environment that we brought our daughter, Johanna, into the world. We celebrated her baby naming at Or Hadash, then located at the Sandy Springs United Methodist Church. A few years later, she was marching through Or Hadash at The Weber School, with her religious school class, waving a flag and receiving her first milestone of Jewish learning.

We are now peeking into the next place, a permanent home for Or Hadash. When I look into this new space, I see all of us, but mostly I see Johanna. She is moving through the hallways, lit with gentle sunlight, from religious school class to the sanctuary. She is playing outside with her friends, rushing in to Kiddush to find the desserts, and only too soon, studying in the Rabbis' offices for her Bat Mitzvah. What I see in this building is a space where the most meaningful parts of her life will take place.

Or Hadash has been a bright light for our family, and we are looking forward to the warmth of this new light wrapping itself around us once again.

Michelle Epstein

Our Building-Our Future: A Little Bit More

All through my life and still to this very day
I love to write poems for what I want to say

So please won't you give me your attention
I have a vital message I want to mention

Our shul is on its way to having a permanent home
No longer will we be nomads, continuing to roam

Creative architects have developed a vision that is exciting
Welcoming, inspiring, green space and natural lighting

Over $4 million dollars is the number we did raise
Can we stretch to $5 million in the next 42 days?

Have you made your pledge, now don't be left out
Everyone's participation is what Or Hadash is about

There's a message that I will surely adore
"You've made your pledge but can stretch a bit more"

The very best way we can bring $5 million near
Is if all of us who have pledged will add a 6th year

So let us hear from you right away
We need to make progress every day

Thanks from the bottom of my heart for all that you do
Together we will make this dream of our new home come true

Call the office, sent an email or tell me any time
That you're ready to participate....that's the end of this rhyme
Sherry Z Frank

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What’s happening with our building? - Looking ahead to Sunday, February 27

What Will I See at the Town Hall Meeting?

This Sunday’s Town Hall meeting will be the first opportunity for many Or Hadash members to see the innovative and exciting vision for our new synagogue. Our architects (Brian Bell and David Yocum) will  present floor plans, elevations, sections and 3-D views which illustrate the overall look and feel of the proposed design, show each space in the building, and define the relationship of these spaces to one another. Their design transforms a utilitarian building into a beautiful, spiritual, welcoming Jewish home for our congregation.

Estimating the Cost of Construction

Brian and David have also been considering what materials, building systems, lighting, acoustics, fixtures, and landscaping to use in the new building. They have met weekly with the Building Committee to share,  discuss, and evaluate each of the many details of the design. And to help estimate (in advance) the cost of building a new spiritual home, all of this information, the Schematic Design package, was submitted to Gay Construction (http://www.gayconstruction.com).

The Board selected Gay Construction to provide construction cost estimates at critical stages of the project, Schematic Design being the first, and to help identify areas where we can save money without sacrificing quality. An established Atlanta contractor with many years of experience working with synagogues, churches, schools and other non-profit organizations, Gay Construction has completed a number of adaptive reuse projects similar in scope to ours.

The Schematic Design documents provided to Gay Construction several weeks ago included essentially every building requirement, wish and dream that the congregation provided to Brian and David during the programming phase. What we learned at this first pass at cost estimating, is that we would all like more than we can afford.  So for the past couple of weeks, the Building Committee, architects and contractor have been working to create design scenarios that more closely match our budget. This is hard work and involves compromise on all sides. It also involves a little bit of predicting the future of our congregation: How much more money can we raise? How fast will we grow? How much will the design of the new building affect our growth and the lives of our members?

Where Are We Now and What Comes Next?

From the outset, we have been seeking a delicate balance between what we can afford and what must we do to make the potential of a new congregational home a reality. To meet this need, Brian and David have been exploring a variety of options, options that range from less elaborate building features and finishes all the way to a phased building program, where we build what we can afford now with a clear master plan for the next stage(s) of building.

The architects will develop these alternate schemes through the next phase, Design Development. At that point the Board will determine the Total Project Budget. The total budget must allow for the purchase price of the land, and the cost of building construction, landscaping, building permits, fees, and fixtures, furniture and equipment. This dollar amount will represent what the Board determines to be a prudent and reasonable expenditure for our congregation. Once all the information is at hand, the Board will make a decision as to which path to take.

Throughout the process, the Building Committee and the Board have been delighted by the innovative, vibrant, and creative designs Brian and David have presented to us. We look forward to sharing their ideas and plans with you at our Town Hall meeting this Sunday, February 27, 9:30 AM.

The Building Committee
February 23, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What’s Happening With Our New Building?

Many of you met our architects Brian Bell and David Yocum (http://www.bldgs.org/) at the community meeting last October. Since then, they’ve been very busy completing several preliminary, but critical tasks. In addition to measuring and documenting the existing conditions of the building and grounds at our Trowbridge Road site, they have compiled a Program Document and developed the Schematic Design. This article will describe these architectural terms more fully and bring you up-to-date with what’s happening on our new building.

One of Brian and David’s first jobs included coordinating with several project consultants - structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers, the landscape architect, and an acoustical engineer.  The input of the acoustical engineer was especially important because North Springs High School football games will overlap with Friday night services about 6 times each year. Our new home must be designed to temper that outside noise as well as provide the acoustics needed for the music in our sanctuary.

In addition to documenting current conditions and coordinating with consultants, our architects began gathering information about synagogues. They met with Or Hadash members, committees and staff and reviewed the 113 responses to the Fall 2010 Congregation Or Hadash New Building Survey. They also toured area synagogues, studied synagogue design, and discussed synagogue security with Federation officials.

Using the gathered information, Brian and David established a Space Program. A Space Program is a list of all required and desired spaces and the size and specific requirements for each of those spaces. Parameters used to define a synagogue building’s space requirements include finishes, lighting, ritual uses, and building code implications. Combining both the preliminary information with the Space Program, Brian and David developed a 200-page Program Document, a comprehensive written definition of the scope of the building project. This document was reviewed and approved by the COH Board.

Once this preliminary work was completed, Brian and David began Schematic Design. It is during this exciting phase that a building really starts to take shape. Schematic Design involves creating floor plans and elevations, and more fully developing each of the areas or sections within the building. During this phase the architects begin to identify what materials will be used in the different rooms and spaces, and provide details about the heating and air-conditioning systems, the lighting for various areas, acoustics, and landscaping.  As you can see in the preliminary sketch below, the design for our new building includes an interior courtyard.    

As part of the Schematic Design phase, Brian and David are creating a series of both virtual and 3-D building models. They are meeting regularly with the Building Committee and will make presentations to the Board at appropriate intervals. Brian and David will present their design to the congregation at a town hall meeting on Sunday, February 27, 9:30 AM.
As many of you know, our new synagogue building will be what is called an adaptive re-use of an existing building. Future articles will explain the challenges and opportunities of using an adaptive re-use building and current plans to make our new synagogue home sustainable and eco-friendly. We will also discuss such details and concepts as interior design, selection of furniture, fixtures and ritual objects, cost-estimating, landscaping, etc. If you have questions, thoughts, feedback, or other ideas for columns, please let us know.

We look forward to sharing with you,

The Building Committee
January 20, 2011