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Basin synagogue celebrated

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Temple Har Shalom on Sunday, in an event that speakers said marked an important moment for Park City’s Jews, held a ceremonial groundbreaking for a synagogue in the Snyderville Basin.

The ceremony, attended by a crowd of Jews and people of other faiths, drew politicians and regular Parkites to celebrate the synagogue and the Har Shalom congregation, which has grown quickly.

Bob Richer, a Summit County Commissioner from the Snyderville Basin, who is Jewish, spoke about how people greeted his faith at different times in his life.

"Certainly unbelievable from my perspective," he said about the plans to build a synagogue.

He talked about attending services in Connecticut when he was younger and then moving to the Deep South, where, Richer said, Jews were not as accepted and where he "felt the sting of anti-Semitism for the first time in my life."

He remembered celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, in Park City in the early 1980s, when, he said, there were few Jews living in the area.

"I know Temple Har Shalom, in our community here, will be a source of bringing people together," Richer said, hoping that people of the world will someday coexist peacefully.

Rabbi Joshua Aaronson, who leads the congregation, said in an interview that Har Shalom hopes to occupy the synagogue by Thanksgiving 2007. That date is after the Jewish High Holy Days, usually in September or October, which normally draw the largest crowds of worshippers.

Aaronson declined to make public the construction budget but said that the building is expected to cost more than $1 million. He said it will span about 30,000 square feet, including a basement, and house a sanctuary, a multi-purpose hall, classrooms and offices.

In an October newsletter, Har Shalom reported raising more than $7 million in the past two years in a building campaign. The newsletter said 198 families had donated.

Har Shalom currently keeps its offices in Prospector, with some of its events, such as High Holy Day services, held in other spots like Silver Lake Lodge.

The synagogue, which will be built next to The Colby School off S.R. 224, was not controversial as the Summit County government considered the application. Work at the site began on Sept. 6, according to Har Shalom’s newsletter.

Aaronson said about 260 families belong to the congregation, totaling between 500 and 600 people. The sanctuary in the synagogue is designed to hold about 225 seats.

"As Park City grows, part of that growth is certainly people of the Jewish community," the rabbi said.

Adam Bronfman, a co-chair of the synagogue’s construction efforts, said Har Shalom welcomes people from each of the branches of Judaism and those who are members of other faiths.

"We are a light, a beacon, to the Jewish world," he said.

Park City Mayor Dana Williams, meanwhile, noted what he sees as the importance of diversity in the community.

"I wish you mazel tov," he said, a Hebrew phrase frequently spoken to wish someone good luck or congratulations.


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