Jewish community opens synagogue
by Anna Oakes
Now called the Temple of the High Country, the congregation welcomed about 300 people for the dedication of the Schaefer Jewish Community Center, which opened less than one year after construction began in August 2011.
The synagogue, located near the corner of West King Street and Poplar Grove Connector, is a one-story, 4,000-square-foot building. It features a main sanctuary to be used for regular Sabbath services; a social hall, which has a wall that can be removed to combine space with the sanctuary for High Holy Day services; a classroom; office; and kitchen for gatherings and ritual meals, including Passover and Hanukkah.
Chuck Lieberman, president of the Temple board of directors, spoke to attendees about the history of the congregation and its all-volunteer leadership. He also thanked Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer, whose donation of $1 million served as seed money for the construction project.
We are here to dedicate and celebrate a Jewish house of worship in Boone, North Carolina, Lieberman said. We thank you Bonnie and Jamie for all you have done for Jews of the High Country.
For years, the congregation met at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Boone, as well as the home of Audrey and Victor Hersch. Since 2003, the community met at St. Luke's Episcopal in Boone for regular services and at St. Elizabeth of the Hill Country Catholic Church for High Holy Day services.
For our entire community, I express our gratitude to these houses of worship, Lieberman said.
The dedication service included the affixing of the mezuzah and a parade of the Holy Torahs. Congregation members said a blessing as the mezuzah, a sacred parchment inscribed with a passage from Deuteronomy, was affixed near the door of the building.
The Temple of the High Country possesses two Torahs: one used for regular services and another, a Holocaust Torah, used for High Holy services. The Holocaust Torah was rescued from a barn outside of Prague during the Nazi Holocaust.
Violinist Gil Morgenstern performed Gavotte en Rondeu by J.S. Bach.
The Schaefer Jewish Community Center will be the site of regular Friday evening Sabbath services and occasional Saturday morning services, Lieberman said in May. The board does not plan to hire a rabbi, instead asking members to take turns leading services.
The center will also house events hosted by Hillel, the Appalachian State University Jewish organization, as well as Jewish symposiums, film festivals and community events.
For more information, call (828) 264-8364 or visit http://www.templeofthehighcountry.org.