An awestruck chatter echoed throughout Aventura City Hall auditorium when the crowd recently saw the image of a two-story building made out of white stucco and Jerusalem stone with stained-glass windows.
It is the preliminary design of the 19,800-square-foot Lubavitch Center Aventura South synagogue that in about two years will permanently grace the city.
“It is going to merge beautifully with the architecture of Aventura,” said Evelyn Faigenblat, a Highland Lakes resident who has been going to Friday night services at Lubavitch Aventura South for three years with her husband and three children.
Faigenblat is one of about 350 people who attend Shabbat and Friday night services at Lubavitch Aventura South. Services are held in rented rooms at the Courtyard Marriott, said the congregation’s Rabbi Mendel Rosenfeld.
At their July meeting, Aventura commissioners unanimously approved construction of the synagogue. The buildings will be built on one and a half acres on the southeast corner of Northeast 185th Street and 28th Court. The land, bought by Lubavitch Aventura South for $5.2 million, will also house a residential facility, such as an assisted living home.
“It is a tremendous opportunity for Lubavitch South to reach out to more people and to share the message with more people,” Rosenfeld said.
This will be the fifth synagogue in Aventura and the only one south of the William Lehman Causeway, said Eric Soroka, city manager.
Marvin Glassman, 60, of Aventura, said the location of the synagogue solves an issue for the Orthodox.
“For people who are Orthodox, it really becomes crucial not to drive on the Shabbat,” said Glassman. “It will make it very, very easy for everyone to commute to the synagogue.”
The building is walking distance from Williams Island.
Some residents in a nearby condominium, Admirals Port West, were concerned about the increased traffic that will result from the synagogue. Rosa Naccarato, 47, said the synagogue will boost traffic in an already dangerous four-way stop intersection, at the Miami Gardens Drive extension at Northeast 28th Court.
“It’s such a dangerous intersection as it is. Now, you add the flow of anywhere 50-340 people; it’s going to be bedlam in that intersection for pedestrians,” said Naccarato, who often bikes in the area.
Lubavitch South zoning attorney Stanley Price and the rabbi said they will try to solve the problem of the traffic but the project will move forward.
Faigenblat, one of the congregants, said the synagogue should not significantly increase traffic because many congregation members do not drive on the Shabbat or on the High Holidays.
“Finally a congregation is growing up in Aventura where people can come and worship and have a future for our kids,” said Faigenblat.
Added Gottlieb: “A religious institution is a good, wholesome community symbol. It’s a good gathering place for people to worship and socialize.”