Friday, August 12, 2005

New Jewish center opens doors

Express Staff Writer

Express photo by Dana DuGan Rabbi Martin Levy and his constant companion, Champ, enjoy a moment of play in the Wood River Jewish Community's new offices.

Champ, Rabbi Martin Levy's boxer, guards the new offices of the Wood River Jewish Community benevolently. He's apt to lick visitors. The rest of the new facility is no less welcoming.

Tabitha Presser, the full-time administrator of the offices on Leadville Avenue in Ketchum, handles the front desk. A summer intern, Alex Chariff, enters the rabbi's library in a computer. Comfortable sofas face a wall of books. A 200-year-old scroll of the book of Esther used at Purim rests on a shelf. Art adorns the walls, including that of Ketchum artist Will Caldwell.

"We are Will Caldwell's art gallery di novo," Levy explained.

There is even a small Judaica shop with such items as Passover plates, jewelry, books and menorahs. Also within the space are offices and a boardroom. Levy teaches children's classes there as well. "And I finally have a place for my 2,000 some books," he said happily.

The Jewish Community moved into the space across from Chateau Drug and next to Sunburst Guitar in April. They have a three-to-four-year lease, Levy said.

"We were really waiting to have a place right in the middle of town. This turned out the be the ideal spot."

On loan from a conservative congregation in Seattle is a Torah, encased in an Ark set in the bookshelves. It will serve as a replacement for the Wood River Jewish Community's ancient Czech Torah, which, in need of repair, will be sent to a scribe in Washington, D.C.

On Sunday, Aug. 7, the facility hosted a reception. "A lot of our congregation saw it for the first time," Levy said.

For information regarding the Wood River Jewish Communitys' programs and services, call 726-1183.

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