If you drive past 5224 Minnetonka Blvd., you'll see plenty of signage for .
But head down the stairs and into the basement and you'll find Darchei Noam, an Orthodox Jewish congregation that has been worshipping in this space for the past six years. That, however, is soon going to change.
This coming Sunday, congregants will be breaking ground on a home of their own. The new synagogue will be built nearby, at the corner of Minnetonka and Joppa Avenue, where a vacant house stands today. The $1 million project should take about five to six months, meaning Darchei Noam should be in its new home by early 2013.
“I’m thrilled that we’re at this stage," Rabbi Joseph Ozarowski said. "The idea of being in our own home is a sign of growth and maturity of our people.”
Darchei Noam started seven years ago with about 30 families, congregation president Judy Shapiro said. For about a year, worship was held in the homes of two families before the congregation found the space at St. George's.
“The church has been a wonderful landlord," Ozarowski said. "It’s been a wonderful relationship.”
But even with that relationship in place, Darchei Noam could only do so much with its rented space. As the congregation has grown to 65 families, members have had to get creative in their worship. Bar mitzvahs have been held at congregants' homes and hotels, among other places.
“It was time to be in our own space," Ozarowski said.
Four years ago, the congregation began looking for somewhere to go. Because city ordinance requires that religious institutions be built near arterial streets, options were limited. The home Darchei Noam found and bought is near many of its congregants, but it is also right across the street from .
“We’d rather that we weren’t right across the street,” Shapiro said. “It’s kind of silly to have everything condensed like that. But that’s the space we could find.”
Ozarowski said the congregations have their own separate members and he doesn't see any competition arising between the two institutions.
“We intend to be good neighbors to them, and we hope they’ll be good neighbors to us,” he said.
Ozarowski and Shapiro said they're excited about what their new space will offer. Instead of having just one room for kids during Saturday morning worship, the new synagogue will have two rooms—one for older kids, and one for younger.
The new synagogue will also have the space needed to hold bar mitzvahs and other special events. Plus, there will some outdoor space, including a playground.
And perhaps most importantly, passers-by will know just who inhabits the building.
“It was time for us to have our own space," Ozarowski said. "It’s a mark of our position in the community. To be taken seriously, you have to have a space of your own.”
IF YOU GO
- What: Darchei Noam groundbreaking
- When: Sunday, June 24, 11:30 a.m.
- Where: 2950 Joppa Ave. S