About Us - Congregation Ohaiv Shalom
Today, Congregation Ohaiv Shalom of New Hempstead is one of the most prominent Synagogues in the Village of New Hempstead. Our community is 90 families strong, with 60 paid members, and we continue to grow each year. We welcome people from all walks of life and the diversity of our membership is evident when one first arrives for services. We are a cohesive group that is proud of this diversity and have a mix of both young and old, singles and families. The bond that’s between us is our greatest strength and we firmly believe that’s connects us most to G-d. When one of us celebrates -- we all celebrate; when one of us mourns -- we all mourn. Similarly, if someone needs assistance, financial or otherwise, our membership can always be counted on.
Our name in Hebrew means 'Lovers of Peace' -- and this is truly who we are. We are proud to be good neighbors to both Jew and Gentile alike and we contribute a community feeling that permeates our neighborhood. When we celebrated the Synagogue's purchase and dedication of our first Torah scroll about 5 years ago, it was a community celebration with a parade attended by many of our neighbors, in addition to our membership. This is Congregation Ohaiv Shalom.
Our story begins in the 1980's. With barely the 10 people necessary to conduct basic services, we struggled at first - but persevered in our strong desire to grow into a vibrant community. We continued to gather in each other's homes and the congregation began to blossom. Thankfully, overtime the basements become increasingly more crowded. News of this growing community started to spread, and young families were gravitating to our section of New Hempstead. The aesthetics and layout of the area is more beautiful than many places in the tri-state area, and the diversity of the group was a draw to many young couples keen to have their children raised in an environment exposed to people from all walks of life. In July of ‘98, we incorporated in the State of New York and got our 501(c)3 tax identification number with permission to operate as a non-profit organization.
At then end of 2001, we had the good fortune to find an appropriate building for sale that would suit our needs for the growth of the community. Perhaps most appealing of all was the size of the property and its suitability for eventual expansion. After nearly 20 years, our Congregation had a permanent home at 18 Bridle Road.
Once settled in our building, the expansion of our community was unstoppable. Weekly services became daily services; nightly study groups and classes became permanent fixtures; youth programs were in place, and houses continued to sell to young couples starting families. After only a short number of years in the building, discussion of expansion became necessary. There was barely enough room for us to operate and on the holidays when families hosted relatives and guests it was exceedingly crowded. As such, various committees were established, architects and engineers were hired and in short order we secured the approval of the Village to proceed with our plan.
Here we stand today, having undertaken a building project to more than double the square footage of our facility. A large 2 story tall "great room" is being constructed behind the existing structure, with a cathedral ceiling and dormers to bring rays of sunlight into the sanctuary.
There will be a fully finished basement for use in catering events and special holiday programs. We will also have a mezzanine level balcony section as well that will overlook the main sanctuary from above.
The existing residential structure will remain an apartment to be leveraged for rental income and will be renovated so the exterior will match that of the new structure. The lower level of the existing structure will be opened up to connect with the new facility and combine to add amenities such as a private study for our Rabbi, classrooms and a wide open lobby.
The final step in our journey to a beautiful spacious synagogue is securing financing. We have faith in our future - both in its financial security and its spiritual growth. Join us in growing this unique synagogue where the atmosphere is one of peace, tolerance and faith.