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East County Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 5 months ago

Chabad readies for expansion

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Leaders hope to start construction on first of three planned buildings in the spring.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Chanie Bukiet pulled out a piece of paper with a black-and-white architectural sketch of buildings on their five-acre property on Lorraine Road.

“This is a dream put on paper,” Bukiet said.

It visualizes the aspirations she and her husband, Rabbi Mendy Bukiet, have for the Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch property, located at 5712 Lorraine Road.

Chabad holds services and educational programming at the site, which also houses a storage building and the family’s home. Eventually it will hold a new temple, a youth center, a hospitality house for guests of Chabad and a mikvah, a ritual bath used by married Jewish women for cleansing as a symbol of rebirth and renewal.

Plans for the mikvah, specifically, are first on their project plans, and the Bukiets are waiting to complete the permitting process with Manatee County. It will take about four months to build.

“For a Jewish community, a mikvah is probably one of the most important things you can have,” Chanie Bukiet said, noting it also demonstrates the importance of women in the family. “It’s a spa-like experience. We really want (women) to feel pampered and respected in (their) role.”

Rabbi Mendy Bukiet, director of Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch, said the mikvah is a cornerstone of the community and will bring blessings to all those involved with it.

The structure is awaiting permit approval from Manatee County, and Chabad has plans to begin construction in the spring. Chabad has raised 48% of its $415,000 budget. It hopes the remainder will come after construction begins.

This rendering shows the exterior of the mikvah, to be located on Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch's five-acre campus on Lorraine Road.

“Everything is ready,” Chanie Bukiet said. “We’re just waiting on permits.”

The mikvah building will have a preparation room with a bathtub and shower and a separate room for the mikvah itself. According to Judaism, the mikvah must hold at least 200 gallons of natural water, so Chabad has worked with experts on the design, which essentially will have two tubs. An underground tub will hold rainwater collected on property, while the tub above and used by women will be chlorinated and purified.

The structure housing the mikvah will be larger to accommodate a separate hospitality area to be used by visitors to Chabad who wish to stay overnight on campus. Chanie Bukiet said that space will be built out as funding becomes available.

The Bukiets hope the entire property will be finished over the next five to 10 years, but each project will be contingent on funding, as the Chabad runs on donations. It total, improvements are estimated at $4 million.

“God knows when,” Chanie Bukiet said of the timeline. “We could use it now. We have hundreds of people for the High Holiday and most of the bigger programs we’re too full.”

Ultimately, the Bukiets want the Jewish community at large to feel at ease on Chabad’s campus and want it to be a place of comfort and welcoming.

“Our community is our home,” Chanie Bukiet said.

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