BCC Celebrates Paying off Mortgage on our New Home!
This article first appeared in G’vanim, March/April 2017 issue.
For the second time in its 45-year history, BCC has paid off the mortgage on our temple home. We did this with 6000 W. Pico Blvd. in 1984, and now, as of January 2017, we own our current home at 6090 W. Pico free and clear! We celebrated this milestone during our Shabbat service on Friday, January 27.
The evening opened with a scrumptious and beautifully presented vegan Shabbat dinner catered by chef Molly Basler, followed by our monthly special musical service known as Ruach Chayim (spirit of life). Along with Rabbi Edwards and Cantor Porat, guest musicians Janice Markham on violin and TJ Troy on percussion helped make this a joyous and spiritual celebration. Cantor Porat also delivered a heartfelt and inspiring drash that evening.
After the opening Kabbalat Shabbat songs, Rabbi Edwards introduced a short film entitled “The Miracle of the House of New Life,” produced by Kenna Love and narrated by Denis Hiebsch. The film chronicles our journey from 2005, when newly elected BCC president Brett Trueman began to implement the dream of a new building for our congregation, to the dedication of our new home in April 2011. The closing sequence of the procession with our sacred Torah scrolls down Pico Blvd. from 6000 to 6090 and into our new sanctuary brought tears to the eyes of many of us who were there that day.
Brett then spoke and thanked all of those who made this possible over the past decade, especially the members of the Capital Campaign Committee – Brett’s co-chair Bill Resnick, Allison Diamant, Ray Eelsing, Rabbi Lisa Edwards, Jay Jacobs, Bruce Maxwell, Tracy Moore, former executive director Felicia Park-Rogers, Steve Sass, Lauren Schlau, Eldon Teper, Hannah Theile, and Les Zendle.
Thanks to their efforts and the generosity of our members and friends, BCC raised $3.6 million for the purchase and renovation of the building, far exceeding the expectations of our fundraising consultant. Brett also chronicled the many obstacles we faced during this process, including the drop in real estate values during the 2008-09 recession (the previous owner Max Webb generously lowered the price), the difficulties of qualifying for a mortgage, and the struggle to obtain the necessary parking variance.
Brett called past and current BCC treasurers Bruce Maxwell, Ray Eelsing and Mike King to assist him in ripping up the mortgage on the bimah, along with current president Lauren Schlau. Lauren thanked Brett and his husband Mark Miller for their vision and all of their hard work and perseverance, and presented them with a gift of some original architectural drawings of the new building.
Cantor Porat’s drash skillfully wove together the week’s Torah portion Va’era (which includes the ten plagues and the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart) with his recent visit as a volunteer at the Elephant Nature Sanctuary in Thailand. The sanctuary project was entitled “Journey to Freedom,” which is also the theme of the Exodus story. As he described it, the purpose of the sanctuary is both to rescue the elephants from the abuse to which they were subjected as work animals in the logging and other industries, and to provide the local inhabitants with a source of income from tourism to replace the rental income that elephants previously earned them. Cantor Porat tied these themes together with a midrashic story about a man who complains repeatedly to God about all the hardships and evils in the world and asks why God doesn’t do something about them, to which God replies “I did do something about it, I created you to help me repair the world.” The full text of Cantor Porat’s drash can be found here on the BCC website.
The evening concluded with a delicious and extravagant oneg, including a cake shaped like the new BCC building! If you were not present for this unique celebration, you should definitely watch the archived video on the BCC U-stream channel.