A three fold community project is underway in Los Angeles
A community is a social unit of any size that shares common values. Community togetherness means secured retreat and strength.
The Garden of Eden – its real pronunciation is Eiden – is the biblical “Garden of God”, the place where, according to the Torah, Adam and Eve lived, where mankind began.
Take the name Eiden and join it with the term community and you get The Eiden Project.
Los Angeles has a large Jewish community with many synagogues and social activities. The “Pico-Robertson” area is amongst the largest Jewish community in the world outside Israel, where Jewish life flourishes. With that housing is expensive.
Rabbi Avraham Zajac (pronounced zy-intz) and his wife Stery have a vision to build a Community Center south-east of the established Pico-Robertson Jewish neighborhood. The one purpose in mind is to offer young couples who want to live in the neighborhood more affordable housing with accessible community center.
Social justice is the reason for The Eiden Project. The plan is three fold: a Montessori pre-school. The school is the only accredited Jewish Montessori pre-school in the city, and is already in full operation in a rented venue; a modern spa-like like community mikvah – a bath used for ritual immersion purpose in Judaism and a sizable synagogue and a social hall.
At the top of priority is the spiritual purpose of the community mikvah: the ritual of the mikvah is the corner stone of a Jewish home; it uplifts the Jewish family to a level of Yiddishkeit, literally means Jewishness, which secures the continuity of the Jewish people. The city of Los Angeles is blessed with many Jewish schools but it suffers from a deficiency in mikvahs’. It is important to emphasize that the last community mikvah was built in this neighborhood 38 years ago. The plan is to build a state of the art spa type mikvah. Aside from religious women making use of the mikvah according to Jewish customs, Rabbi Zajac is confident that the hi-tech type mikvah-spa will attract less religious women – and men – who seek spiritual uplifting experience.
The Eiden Project that went into campaign mode two years ago, is unique; it is the largest Jewish community center presently in the making. The Eiden Project, in collaboration with the Chabad of SOLA (stands for South LaCienega) community has closed escrow on a 20,500 square foot lot on LaCienega Boulevard, its value is $4.5 million dollars. The property will be divided between the pre-school, the mikvah and the shul* and a social hall.
* Shul is a Yiddish word for synagogue; origin of shul in Yiddish is literally school; from the Middle High German word schuol, meaning school; from Classical Latin word schola, meaning school
The project will be executed in stages. Right now the income from the property’s tenants covers the mortgage so there is no financial bleeding. In the near foreseeable future, the goal is to pay down the $2 million mortgage and thus not depend on the rent to start construction, first the Mikvah, then the pre-school and the last but not the least the shul. Obviously, if The Eiden Project attracts the special benevolent person(s) who will come forward with the complete project’s sum of $12 million dollars, the entire community center will be built in one construction stage.
Rabbi Zajac, his wife Stery and their five children started the Chabad of SOLA community nearly seven years ago, locating themselves south of the [Pico] boulevard. It has turned to be among the fastest growing Jewish community in a Los Angeles neighborhood, offering environment of warmth, openness, passion for learning and togetherness.
Building the new community center will broaden the Jewish neighborhood south-eastward, with access to variety of Jewish resources and education.
So far the SOLA community and Shul has been successful and after The Eidan Project is completed the venue will offer many social services and hopefully other shuls will move east or east-south.
We have just finished celebrating Chanukah. The story of Chanukah and the bravery of the Maccabees teaches us that there is no such a thing as a futile act of courage, or a small act of faith. One doctor can save many a life; one school can help many a child and many a child may change a village. One community center can bring a community closer, can be the spark that changes the world of so many.
If you are reading this article think big: A good leader creates followers; a great leader creates leaders.
A good supporter brings in funds and support; a great supporter brings in funds and support as well as creates other supporters who bring in funds and support, the funds needed to complete the Eiden Project.
The Eiden project could be your legacy in preserving Yiddishkeit and the continuity of Jewish peoplehood and advancing strong community values.