Almost half of Tulsa's Jewish community is looking to Y2K as the year they get their synagogue back. The B'nai Emunah synagogue has been gutted for renovation, but the demolition is over and construction is beginning.
A crane towers over Maple Ridge, setting the steel for a new education and administration building at B'nai Emunah. It's only a portion of a multi-million dollar, year-long renovation and construction plan. The new building will be about the same size as the outdated one it replaces. Workers gutted the interior of the sanctuary building.
When the work is done, the dimly lit sanctuary will be much brighter. "The principal objectives were to get more light into the worship areas so we'll have some outside light and more overhead light and lighter tones generally," said Scott Zarrow, Building Committee.
During the construction, B'nai Emunah's Torah has been kept in the homes of congregation families for safekeeping. The artwork is in storage, as is the collection of the Fenster Museum which plans to relocate elsewhere.
The construction didn't interrupt B'nai Emunah's worship schedule. The congregation met separately at All Souls Unitarian Church and at Temple Israel. The project won't be completed until the spring of 2000, but as it moves from blueprints to reality, the congregation is hopeful. "So you hope that there's an enthusiasm for a project and you're in a new facility and you build on it and do good things that everybody will be proud of," Zarrow said.
The project gathers 60 years of building projects under one roof., a move planners believe will help unite the 350 families who worship here.