Congregation B'nai Israel
2710 Park Avenue
Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604
e-mail Temple Sinai
For many years, B'nai Israel was involved with the Bridgeport chapter of Habitat for Humanity, supporting existing work crews and making financial donations. In the summer of 1997, members of the congregation decided that it was time for B'nai Israel to sponsor and build a house on its own. The project required a commitment of at least $50,000, and, of course, many hours of labor.
B'nai Israel is located in Bridgeport although few of its members actually live in the city. But part of the synagogue mission statement declares that through social justice projects, the largely suburban membership will remain connected to the city.
Funds for the house were raised over a six-month period, with every element of the synagogue family participating. In the end, over 750 congregants contributed more than $60,000. Ground-breaking for the house took place in May 1988, and the house was named Beit Tikvah, House of Hope. Work crews overflowed with volunteers, including many who had never been to Bridgeport's inner city. Nursery school children and seniors made lunches for the workers, and members of the other Reform synagogue in the area joined in the work. More than 300 people participated in the construction.
The house was "earned" by Annette Quintero, who had performed the 500 hours of sweat equity that Habitat requires. She, her parents, and her three children now live in it, and all have developed a close bond with the congregation.
B'nai Israel, the first Jewish congregation in the Northeast to sponsor and complete a house, is considering its next project, perhaps joining to build another house in coalition with another synagogue or church. In the meantime, it has received inquiries from a number of congregations around the country, and three synagogues nearby have been in touch with Habitat.
The Fain Award is presented to Congregation B'nai Israel in appreciation of its dedication and its success in involving the entire synagogue family in the work of providing decent shelter for a family in need.
Click here to return to the 1999 Fain Award winners
Is your congregation looking for more ways to reach out to the community? Check out the Religious Action Center Program Bank.