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Star Democrat: New Temple B'nai Israel dedicated

EASTON — The brand-new, spacious, light-filled Temple B’Nai Israel was dedicated in a series of events this weekend, and Saturday night’s service included the lighting of candles, responsive readings, prayer, singing, and a large after-party.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot was among the speakers that included Governor Hogan’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, who is from St. Michaels, and Easton’s Mayor Bob Willey.

Franchot made a presentation to businessman and philanthropist Ed Satell, who made the new temple possible with his family’s support.

The new building is Temple B’nai Israel, The Satell Center for Jewish Life on the Eastern Shore, and serves the Jewish community of Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester Counties.

It was designed by Levin Brown Architects of Baltimore, and built by Willow Construction of Easton.

It’s 9500-square-feet will be the hub for the congregation’s religious, educational, cultural and social activities.

Temple B’nai Israel’s original congregation was founded in 1951 and has grown into more than 200 members. It provides religious schooling along with preparation for bar and bat mitzvahs, weekly and holiday services, Rabbi’s sermons, social activities and more.

Ages in the congregation range from young families with small children to full-time Mid-Shore retirees and people with second homes.

The new temple is located on six acres of land at 7199 Tristan Drive in Easton and became a reality through $6 million that the congregation raised, including land, building and endowment.

It replaces the previous temple that is located to the south and behind the University of Maryland Shore Regional Medical Center on Washington Street.

The new temple’s sanctuary seats 280 people and can be reorganized for events with tables and a dance floor, such as for weddings, ceremonies and other special events.

There are other offices and meeting rooms available. The building also has a professional kitchen that can accommodate food preparation for 280 people.

It’s been a labor of love for eight years, with planning, permitting and construction the major task of committee members Frank Menditch, Norman Bell, Bruce Bernard, Jeanne Bernard, George Carlson, Lynda Carlson, Elaine Friedman, Steven Gervis, Lesley Israel, Jan Kirsh, Barry Koh, Barbara Spector, Arna Meyer Michelson, Dennis Podolny, Pat Strongin and the congregation’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Peter Hyman.

During those eight years, Board Chairmen and Presidents of the Temple were Lou Berman, Elaine Friedman, Barbara Smilow, Barbara Viniar, Frank Menditch and the current president, Arna Meyer Mickelson.

Saturday evening’s service was a Havdalah service, which marks the symbolic end of the Sabbath and ushers in the new week.

Rabbi Peter Hyman and cantorial soloist Alan Haber led the service, with help from cantorial soloist Jason McKinney. After the service, the crowd danced to the music of the Seth Kibel Klezmer Trio, and enjoyed light refreshments.

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