Tomorrow's Tiferet Torah

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Despite its current low profile location and relatively recent establishment, Congregation Tiferet Torah – Rabbi Michael Haber’s kinees, as it’s sometimes commonly referred to – has already had a strikingly profound impact on Brooklyn’s Sephardic community. This impact was clearly evident to New York City’s Board of Standards and Appeals, which held a hearing last April to decide on a construction variance for a new building to house the burgeoning congregation. With dozens of area community residents in attendance to support the kinees, the synagogue’s legal representative boldly explained that, “A new synagogue is not coming to the area – it’s already in the area.” And after receiving unanimous support from the board of standards and appeals, the construction of Tiferet Torah’s magnificent and long overdue new building is now officially underway. Known for his exemplary dedication to Torah, missvot and the community, Tiferet Torah’s leader, Rabbi Michael Haber has been the driving force behind the remarkable growth of the kinees. Long among the leading rabbis of the year-round community in Deal, New Jersey, Rabbi Haber and his family moved to the lower east streets of Brooklyn in 2003, and had an immediate, intense impact upon scores of families in the area and the greater community at large. Tiferet Torah was established for the simple purpose of doing exactly what a kinees is expected to do: providing daily prayers and Torah classes for both men and women, with a strong emphasis on youth programming. Since its founding, the synagogue has continually attracted new congregants, and its membership has grown consistently each year. The sanctuary, located at 1741 East 3rd Street, within the confines of the Ashkenazic Congregation, Ahavath Achim, is filled to capacity every Shabbat and holidays. Tiferet Torah runs numerous popular educational programs. Rabbi Joey Haber, the illustrious son of Rabbi Michael Haber, delivers a riveting lecture every Shabbat during se’uda shelishit (the third Shabbat meal) to a standing-room-only crowd, as well as a weekly class for women on Wednesday nights that is consistently filled to capacity. Rabbi Joey’s lectures have earned worldwide popularity for their clarity, depth and relevance. At Tiferet Torah, he is a pillar and leader of the k’nees who has a unique understanding of people, their pressures and their challenges, and is always approachable and ready to offer assistance and guidance. Another of the synagogue’s special attractions is its young and talented hazan, Rabbi Jack Braha. His vocal and musical talents, coupled with his warm and genuine personality, make the prayers at Tiferet Torah an inspiring and uplifting experience for everyone in the congregation. Rabbi Braha also works diligently with the young men of the congregation, training them to read the Torah and participate in the prayers and pizmonim. Another instrumental part of Tiferet Torah’s success is the daily morning shiur delivered by Rabbi David Shelby before shaharit. Rabbi Shelby brings to the shiur a rare combination of sheer brilliance and a creative teaching style, offering the men the special privilege of drawing from his wisdom and scholarship each and every day. To accommodate the continued growth, the Tiferet Torah leadership embarked on a campaign to find and build a new, larger and permanent home for the kinees. After securing a sizeable location on the corner of East 2nd Street and Quentin Road last year, the new building project is well underway and moving along swiftly, thanks to the capable leadership and direction of Harry Adjmi. The new facility will feature a comfortable main sanctuary that will accommodate 200-240 men, and a second floor balcony overlooking the main sanctuary that will accommodate about 125 women. It will also include a full third floor Midrash which will allow for an early minyan, a father/son minyan, girls and boys programs, and space for more classes. A banquet hall in the lower level will be available for hosting sebbits, brit milas, bar missva celebrations, and other community events. As of the end of September, the demolition is complete, the required variance has been secured, and the construction of Tiferet Torah’s new home is in the community is set to begin. The work is projected to reach completion, with Gd’s help, in time for the High Holidays in 2013, less than two years from now. For those who wish to take advantage of the tremendous missva of taking part in the building of kinees, a number of prime, once-in-a-lifetime, dedication opportunities are still available. To participate in this exciting new project, simply contact a member of the committee: Harry, Adjimi Jack Elbaz, 917-664-7385 Albert Esses, 718-757-4972 Gary Levy, 917-538-0900 Joseph Safdeye, 917-734-1013 Albert Tobias, 917-653-0680 Or email for more information. Designing with a Higher Purpose Architect Adam Naim shares some insights about his design of Tiferet Torah’s new edifice. Q. What kind of technical considerations went into the design of this synagogue? Naim: The design of the new Tiferet Torah was conceived with a rigorous balance between technical planning and conceptual designing. The technical aspects include designing for the congregation’s needs, programmatic requirements and budgetary limits while planning within the city’s strict building codes and zoning regulations. We were very fortunate to be granted a BSA variance to significantly increase the bulk of the new building which will better accommodate the Tiferet Torah congregation than otherwise would have been permitted by the city. Q. How much of the design was influenced by aesthetics and function? Naim: The conceptual design aspects are weaved in between the technical to bring the architecture together in a manner that evokes meaning and creates a place that is worthy of the lofty purpose it will serve. The form, function and orientation of the building embody the essence of the community and will result in a creation of intimate spatial connections with a grand experience to complement the numerous functions and uses that will activate or occupy the spaces throughout the year. Q. What kind of features and considerations were incorporated into the final design? Naim: The underlying concept for the new Tiferet Torah is focused on the ideas of community and context, and its design is not limited to one particular outstanding feature. It’s a thoughtful collection of spatial relationships that create the potential for intimate gathering within a grand experience, as well as particular attention to sunlight in relation to the rituals and use of the synagogue and community center. Q. What other area community facilities have you worked on? Naim: We are currently designing other similar community centers including a Sephardic Center in Mill Basin, a banquet hall in Boro Park, and a synagogue and preschool for Chabad Lubavitch. Our work extends throughout the community and includes both commercial and residential designs. Q. Finally, what do you feel is the source of your obvious enthusiasm for this project? Naim: Architecture projects like this rely on the open and supportive relationships between the institution, its community and the design team, and the Tiferet Torah project has turned out to be a unique and positive collaboration. I look forward to seeing the community develop and prosper.