By Ben Tinsley
COLLIN COUNTY — Adat Chaverim — Collin County’s only URJ-affiliated Reform congregation — has secured land on which it intends to eventually build a new synagogue.
The $1.92 million land purchase is part of an ongoing capital campaign. It is expected to ensure a legacy for both the 215 families who currently comprise the congregation and future congregants.
Adat Chaverim, founded in 1997, is located at 6300 Independence Pkwy, Ste. A in Plano.
The new land is located on 5.1 acres at the northwest corner of Lebanon Road and Batsford Drive in Frisco — about 4.2 miles north of the current synagogue. It is close to the intersection of Independence and the Sam Rayburn Tollway.
Steve Jacobs, president of Adat Chaverim, said congregation officials put a contract on the new land March 5.
“We are doing due diligence,” Jacobs said. “We will continue fundraising and make sure financing is set. We are looking at an actual time frame of five months. We have until the end of the year to totally complete it.”
However, Jacobs said, nothing will be immediately constructed.
“That won’t happen for three to five years,” he said. “It’s a raw piece of land with no building on it right now at all.”
Rabbi Benjamin D. Sternman said while this is his first experience with a capital campaign, he believes the process is moving along quite smoothly.
The rabbi said at least 96 percent of the members support the purchase of a new synagogue.
“I really do believe we couldn’t be undergoing a capital campaign in any better condition than we’re in right now,” Rabbi Sternman said.
It’s no secret that much of the development in this area is driven by growth.
The Frisco Independent School District, in particular, could face population increases — possibly leapfrogging from 56,904 in 2016 to 71,499 by 2021, according to www.friscoisd.org/about/district-overview/fast-growth.
“So, if you think about the growth of the population and the fact we are the only (URJ-affiliated) Reform congregation in Collin County and that this is our first time to buy land … you’ll realize this is an exciting time,” Rabbi Sternman said.
The current synagogue is at a shopping center near other businesses and buildings, which synagogue leaders have found problematic.
Rabbi Sternman said there is definitely something to be said about having one’s own building.
“There are times when people can’t find us — and we’re right at he corner of the shopping center,” he said.
The rabbi said the shared experience of acquiring land for a future synagogue building has brought the congregation closer.
The in-depth research and activities that led to the decision to acquire this specific property were presented to the congregation by Capital Campaign Committee member Howard Flushman.
The project began with 85 properties under review and a very thorough study.
That list was narrowed and a specific property selected and approved around the first of the year, and the main capital campaign committee was formed.
Old Jewish adage
Synagogue officials later reviewed the property with their architect firm, Landau/Zinder of Princeton, N.J.
“We have entered into a contract for the land,” the rabbi said. “Assuming nothing is wrong, we will be able to close and look forward to building. We have our architects presenting drawings soon. We are on the cusp of realizing the dream of this congregation.”
Jacobs, meanwhile, offered an analogy for the situation. It revolves around a Talmudic quote and an older man planting a tree.
Some passersby who noticed the man planting the tree said to him, “Why do you plant the tree when you won’t live to enjoy it when it’s large enough?”
The older man responded, “I have to plant trees for the benefit of future generations.”
Simply put, the congregants of Adat Chaverim plan to build a new synagogue in this portion of North Texas, Jacobs said — not necessarily for themselves, but definitely for the benefit of the generations to come.
“That’s why I push so hard,” he said.
Adat Chaverim started off with eight families in someone’s living room. That group expanded to 30 families. Then, 40. Then 50.
The synagogue continued to grow over time, changing locations when space constraints demanded.
“They went wherever they could find a place and eventually opened up four doors down from where we are now,” the rabbi said. “The place we are now used to be an athletic facility. Someone did this for us and we are going to do it for someone else in the future. We are going to keep growing.”