The groundbreaking Thursday on a new resource center and the dedication of the surrounding area as the Rifkin Campus at 5200 are the latest steps toward transforming Congregation Achduth Vesholom's property on Old Mill Road into a Jewish community center.
The site at 5200 Old Mill Road will continue to be home to Achduth Vesholom, the city's Reform Jewish congregation and the oldest Jewish congregation in Indiana. The congregation was founded in 1848 and has occupied its current site, also known as the Temple, since 1961.
The campus also will include a new, $1.07 million Madge Rothschild Resource Center. They hope for construction to start in October, said project co-chairman John Stein, with the center's completion in April. They will have a "soft opening" next summer with hopes for an official opening in September.
The project also includes offices for the Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne and Fort Wayne Jewish Cemetery Association, which already have moved into the Temple building, and the now-completed remodeling of space used by the Brightpoint Head Start program, which has used the Temple's classroom wing for about 20 years, Stein said. The Head Start program currently serves 72 children.
The work is being funded through donations including $1 million from the Rifkin Family Foundation, $500,000 from the Madge Rothschild Foundation, $150,000 from the Dr. Louis A. and Anne B. Schneider Foundation, and $16,000 from the AWS Foundation, the announcement said.
"The Temple leaders have a vision that will bring all the elements of Jewish life together in one place and to create a cultural center that fosters interfaith education and benefits the entire Fort Wayne community," Danny Rifkin, a Rifkin foundation trustee, said in the announcement.
Bringing local Jewish organizations together in one location will give them "greater visibility and opportunities to combine resources and energies," the announcement said.
The 3,150-square-foot Rothschild Resource Center will be the focal point of the project, the announcement said. It will contain the Rabbi Richard B. Safran Library and Jacob L. Goldman Memorial Museum. It also will have a 1,100-square-foot inner courtyard with a proposed sculpture garden.
The resource center will tell the story of Jewish people in northeast Indiana over the past 200 years, as well as educate people about the Holocaust, the announcement said. A major goal will be promoting greater understanding among all faiths and people.
Rothschild, who died in March 2005, was the great-granddaughter of one of Achduth Vesholom's founding members, Sigmund Redelsheimer. She was the last direct descendant of a founding family.
Thursday morning's events also included dedication of a new Rifkin Campus at 5200 sign, which was designed by local artist Cary Shafer and constructed of Indiana limestone, steel and bronze.
Earlier work on the campus project also has included a new circular driveway, improved parking with more spaces for people with disabilities, and updated and new bathrooms accessible to people with disabilities.
For more about Congregation Achduth Vesholom and the Rifkin Campus at 5200, call 744-4245 or go to www.templecav.org.