After 50 years, the building that served as the home of the youth programs of Seattle’s Congregation Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath (BCMH) was torn down for a brand new youth center. The groundbreaking event was in January.
The building was originally constructed in 1964 as a temporary home for the Yavneh congregation, a satellite branch of Congregation Bikur Cholim, Seattle’s oldest synagogue, while it moved from its original structure in Seattle’s Central District to its current building in Seward Park. Once the move was completed, the building, known as Yavneh, became the home of BCMH’s thriving youth programs, which included day camps, Shabbat and holiday programs as well as the Seattle chapter of NCSY, the Orthodox Union’s international youth movement. Yavneh also became the temporary home of the Seattle Hebrew Academy after the 2001 earthquake devastated its facility.
But 50 years is a long time for any building, especially one that was only created as a temporary structure. Recently, due to age and wear, programming and NCSY events were moved into portable units outside the youth building.
Ari Hoffman, youth director of BCMH and director of Seattle NCSY explained, “To continue having our well-renowned youth program and camps a new building is a necessity. On Shabbat when there is a lot going on at BCMH with multiple minyanim and classes, there just wasn’t enough space for everyone.”
The new youth center to be built on the former Yavneh location will encompass 5,613 square feet on two floors including five classrooms, a large multipurpose space, teen lounge, offices for youth staff, kitchen, youth beit midrash and a space for a sukkah.
A major anonymous donor for the project will be naming the building for the child victims of the Shoah and victims of the terrorist attacks in Israel.