San Jose Chabad secures spacious new building after fire – J.
Six months after a fire ripped through Almaden’s small Chabad-occupied synagogue, it has a new address in San José to move to — with more than double the space.
Upon the close of escrow on June 10, Chabad of Almaden will become the official owner of an 8,748 square foot building at the corner of Almaden Highway and Blossom Hill Road, Rabbi Mendel Weinfeld said, who runs the synagogue with his wife, Mussie. It’s about a mile down the road from the fire-damaged building they left at 1088 Branham Lane.
The fire started from the carport outside the synagogue on the morning of Dec. 22, 2021, according to the San Jose Fire Department. The cause was never determined. The fire destroyed every room in Chabad’s 3,246 square foot building, including the attic. Fortunately, the building was empty and no one was injured. The Torahs were saved by firefighters extracting them from the ark on the second floor, thanks to community member Jacob Cohen, who rushed to the scene to alert first responders of the need to preserve the scrolls.
“It is an axiom of our belief system as Jews that tragedy does not serve as a setback but as a springboard to propel us into future growth,” Weinfeld said of the acquisition of the new building. “We are rising from the ashes and making history in San Jose.”
The new synagogue, built in 1971 and renovated in 2011, will house the Chabad Hebrew School, prayer services, adult education institute, and Shabbat and holiday programs, as well as community outreach programs.
Unlike the previous building, rented by the Weinfelds, this one was purchased for $4.5 million. Weinfeld said more than 3,500 donors raised 75% of the cost, and he’s optimistic more donations will cover the remaining 25% in the coming days. Donations can be made online at chabadfire.com.