Jewish Journal


February 6, 2003

University Synagogue, Chabad Hope to Expand


Two Irvine synagogues are turning to congregants for money to fund building expansions that are expected to break ground this spring.

Delayed by difficulty finding a lender, University Synagogue hopes by May to start the year-long remodeling of a shuttered ice rink into a 1,500-seat sanctuary and six classrooms, said Dennis S. Klarin, a Newport Beach accountant and president of the Reconstructionist congregation. Irvine's Commercial Capital Bancorp is expected to lend most construction financing, while congregants will be asked to make up the remainder, he said.

University's 570 families presently hold services and religious school classes in rented space shared with a church, which uses the facility on Sunday. "We don't find that adequate," Klarin said, as conflicts for space often force congregation activities into homes and restaurants or scheduling at inopportune times. But financial constraints will mean a further delay of renovations to the rink's upper floors, Klarin said.

In December, Chabad of Irvine also asked congregants to contribute toward a $1 million expansion that would more than double its existing 4,000-square-foot facility, which serves about 100 children. Plans initially called for a 10-month building project beginning in April on adjacent land, acquired for $1.5 million last June, Rabbi Alter Tenenbaum said.

But, he added, the developer has yet to finalize plans.

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