Philadelphia, PA – This past weekend, in Philadelphia, members of Congregation Beth Yeshua listened, in shock, as Rabbi David Chernoff revealed that the synagogue’s long search for a new building has finally reached an end. It was an announcement over 20 years in the making, and one many had come to suspect would never arrive. However, the mood among the congregation was far more anxious than one might expect, and after the service stunned members expressed a mix of excitement and deep concern.
“Obviously, I’m thrilled that we finally have a new building,” said long-time member Helen Wilson. “We’ve been looking for over two decades, and we’ve needed it for at least that long. That being said, praying for a new building has been a major cornerstone of my prayer time throughout this search. Over 20 years of habit is going to be hard to break, and I have no idea what I’m going to fill that time with.”
Many others in the congregation voiced similar issues. “I’ve literally been praying for the new building since I was a kid,” said former YMJA President Jonathan Salkind. “I barely even remember a time when I wasn’t setting aside a big chunk of my quiet time to focus on it. Not to mention my wife and I have been raising our daughters to always pray that we’d get a new building; what are we supposed to tell them to pray about now?”
In an effort to ease troubled members’ concerns, Rabbi David assured the congregation that there was still plenty to pray for. “We still need to sell our current building,” he said, making sure to maintain a soothing tone of voice so as not to further agitate the crowd. “We’ve also been having difficulty getting settlement on the other property we bought a few years back. Plus, while it doesn’t look like zoning will be an issue, we’re going to need to do some substantial construction on the new building before we can move in. Believe me, there’s still plenty to pray about.” Nonetheless, many of those in attendance weren’t entirely convinced.
“Sure,” said Ken Fischer, “Technically we’ve still got stuff to pray for. But, I mean, selling property? Construction going smoothly? I can wring maybe five minutes out of that. What about the other 25 minutes I was devoting to the new building each day? How do they expect me to reach the full hour per day of prayer that the Rabbi’s been drilling into us for all these years if my biggest subject just vanishes?”
Reached for comment, Office Manager, John Rose, suggested several possible topics of building-related prayers. In addition to reiterating the Rabbi’s points, he suggested praying for other Messianic congregations in need of buildings, including Adat HaTikvah near Chicago and Shuvah Yisrael on Long Island. But members shrugged that suggestion off as well. “Most of my prayer time for the building has been pressing in for God’s will on various properties I’ve seen in the area that seemed perfect for us,” said Josh Collis. “How can I do that for a congregation in a place I’ve never been to?”
However, not everyone at Beth Yeshua is dismayed by the sudden lack of prayer material. In fact, dance leader, Tatiana Pulido, said that the announcement has taken her prayer life to a whole new level. “Are you kidding me?!” she asked incredulously. “Now that we have the property, I can finally stop praying about the building and focus on what really matters. I’ve got a very clear vision for our new dance floor, and believe me, I’m going to make sure both God and the office staff hear about it every single day until my prayers are answered.”
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