A home to call their own
By Sharon Wisch-Ray
Reform Congregation Adat Chaverim settled into its new and permanent home Thursday, May 12, when it dedicated its synagogue at 6000 Custer Road in Plano.
Terry Sigle, president, and Kevin Spinhirne, president-elect, carried the synagogue’s two Torahs in a processional to the doors of the congregation. They paused as Rabbi Ben Sternman affixed the mezuzah to the door. The membership then followed the Torahs into the sanctuary.
“The place was standing room only. We saw members that we haven’t seen in a very long time,” said Dotty Fox, Adat Chaverim’s executive director.
Plano Mayor John Muns was scheduled to attend the festivities, but he was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier in the week. He did, however, declare May 12, 2022, Adat Chaverim Day through a proclamation that was read by Sigle.
In his remarks, Sigle thanked the many people that made Adat Chaverim’s permanent home a reality. It was a quick turnaround, as the property was only purchased in December 2021.
The synagogue had occupied a space in a strip mall at the northeast corner of Spring Creek Parkway and Independence in Plano for almost two decades. The congregation has been in search of its own building for years, including at one time entertaining the idea of new construction. In the fall, the Custer property, which was formerly a corporate office, became available. The congregation closed on the property in December, and construction to transform it into the new Adat building moved swiftly.
Numerous synagogue members lent their expertise, from technology to construction to floor coverings, to make the project come to fruition.
Meryl Fein, who has been a member of the congregation for 22 years, chaired the interior décor committee. She said her committee was intentional and made careful choices to ensure supply chain issues wouldn’t be an issue.
“We picked every tile, every paint color, every carpet and worked very closely with the builder to create the esthetic for the interior of the building,” Fein said.
Rabbi Ben Sternman reminded attendees that a synagogue is just a building without the people who make up the congregation.
“We must fill the building with people praying. We must fill the building with people studying. We must fill the building with people shmoozing, laughing, playing, eating, being together. And if we do, then God’s presence will also fill our new and beautiful building,” Rabbi Sternman said.
The dedication kicked off a weekend of activities, which Fox said seemed perfectly timed. At the Friday night Shabbat Bagrut service, Adat Chaverim held graduation from religious school for its 12th graders. Sunday was the last day of religious school, which always ends with a picnic, Maccabiah and cookout.
“This is the first year we were able to do it on our own property because this building has land all around it. It was a wonderful day,” said Fox.
Fein reflected on why Adat Chaverim has kept her so engaged.
“We live our name. We are a community of friends. We are very hamish, we care a lot about each other.”
She added, “A construction project can either be really good and bring everybody together or really bad and very divisive. This was really a great experience. It was a lot of work. But it was a great experience from beginning to end.”