A Community Grows In Boynton Beach


by Fay Kranz Greene - BOYNTON BEACH, FLORIDA

October 8, 2003

The raucous sounds of bulldozers, jackhammers and electric drills create a constant cacophony in the area around Chabad Lubavitch of Boynton Beach, and the clamor is expected to continue unabated for at least 18 more months.

But no one is complaining. Because the noise is the sound of the future of this South Florida Jewish community located about 65 miles north of Miami Beach.

Can you say 'building bonanza booming in Boynton Beach'? Fifty five beautiful homes are currently under construction next door to the 15,000 square foot Chabad center on El Clair Ranch Road. The homes are appealing to Jewish families because they combine comfort and even opulence with the amenities of traditional Jewish life.

The kitchens all have options for two sinks, two stoves, two dishwashers and a refrigerator with a light that can be turned off on Shabbat. The patios are easily convertible into Sukkot. The Chabad synagogue is a five minute walk.

Rabbi Sholom and Dina Ciment, the directors of Chabad Lubavitch of Greater Boynton, are partly responsible for the housing boom and proud of it.

When the magnificent 500-seat synagogue and social hall, a part of the Rae and Joseph Gann Campus for Living Judaism was completed about 14 months ago, Rabbi Ciment began to explore possibilities of having housing available within walking distance.

"This was very important to us," he said, "because when you are working with Jews who want to graduate in their observance of Judaism, you have to give them the opportunity to become Sabbath observant."

"I approached dozens of land developers with the idea of purchasing the acreage adjacent to the synagogue and explained to them how this could be an ideal combination, but all of them turned me down."

"Finally, Divine Providence sent us Fred Rothman, Ned Siegel and Bruce Grundt of Paramount Residential and NLS Communities, whose main industry is the building of multi million dollar exclusive residences. But thank G-d, their warm Jewish hearts were attracted to building a Jewish community for Chabad, and they embraced the partnership with us to make our dream a reality."

Rabbi Ciment got personally involved with the developers and helped them define what Jewish buyers might need in a home. He promoted the community to his congregants and the developers promoted his synagogue to potential buyers.

They came up with the idea of a public relations campaign to promote the concept, and ran ads in national Jewish publications describing all of the services Chabad of Boynton offers to Jewish families. In addition to the shul, the center also has a highly acclaimed Hebrew school with an enrollment that grew by 80% this year, and a wealth of spiritual and cultural programs are geared to all ages, from toddlers to seniors.

Now in the planning stages for phase two, the center will include a state-of-the-art preschool, a spectacular women's mikvah, a daily sanctuary, conference center, administrative offices and a community Judaic library.

The publicity campaign paid off. All of the 55 homes in Wyndsong A have been sold and the developers are now planning a spin-off community just up the road to include an additional 45 'kosher compatible' residences.

Rabbi Ciment is quick to point out that what he's the most proud of are 'the people in our own community who used this building boom to grow in their own Yiddishkeit."

"Families gave up their apartments and sold their homes in other parts of the city and bought at Wyndsong," Ciment says proudly.

"Some of the families that moved here did so after only a year or two in their former residences, where they were finally unpacking the last boxes, when they opted to sell and move again to be part of this Shomer Shabbat community. That is our greatest 'nachas'."

Linda and Shimon Perez and their two children Eitan and Yoni are one of those families. They moved to Florida from Israel about two years ago and bought a home in a community with a lot of children.

"That was important to us," says Linda. "But then we joined Chabad and became more observant and wanted to live in a community where our sons would now have more Jewish friends and a more Jewish atmosphere."

"We are pleased with our decision. We think this is a warm community, we feel very much at home, the rabbi and his wife are wonderful and our children are very happy."

Who could ask for anything more?

Rabbi Ciment can and he does. He estimates that "in the next 16 months, between both developments, we will G-d willing have 90 new families moving in and we will have hundreds of Jewish children as part of our community"

"We are energized because all of these families are coming together knowing that they are the pioneering group of a tremendous new face to this city of 48,000 Jews, and they will be able to celebrate and grow in their Judaism like never before"

"Thank G-d,” he says, “the future is extremely bright."

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