The Revitalization of Our Home has Begun!

A Note from President Laura Levy:

As we approach the return to our cherished home for Summer Union, I have exciting updates to share about the renovations to our historic building over the coming year.

As many of you are aware, Touro Synagogue is thriving, driven by a congregation that is passionate about and committed to this spiritual space and the impact it has on the broader New Orleans community and beyond. Our congregation is housed in one of the finest historic buildings in New Orleans, one that is over 110 years old. As you can imagine, this magnificent but aging structure requires ongoing upkeep and investment in infrastructure upgrades and space renovation to meet the needs of our congregation now and well into the future. With over 670 families, our goal is twofold: to fortify the building and to create spaces that effectively engage all community members.

To this end, Touro launched the Lifting the Sky Capital Campaign in 2022. The campaign has had a tremendous response from the congregation with gifts exceeding $4.1M of a $5.5M goal. We are so grateful to our Campaign Chairs and Leadership Team, and for the generosity of our congregation to date. Heartfelt thanks to all of you who have already contributed! If you have not yet been contacted about the campaign, please know that we plan to reach every member of the congregation. In the meantime, as you await our outreach, I welcome your comments and questions about the campaign or the building project.

As you will learn more about in the coming weeks, plans for our synagogue home include:

— Installation of an elevator in the Education Building to maximize accessibility
— Expansion of our office spaces and lobby to accommodate a larger staff and more comfortable seating for congregants
— Creation of new learning spaces for children and adults
— Creation of an accessible, all-gender, family bathroom
— Installation of crucial infrastructure including a new electrical system and HVAC, as well as new flat roofs and restoration of our exterior.

I am excited to say that the revitalization of our carefully and lovingly maintained home has begun. After a lengthy and thorough phase of design and planning, the construction phase began this month with project completion anticipated by the end of summer 2024. Thanks to our skilled and deeply devoted Building Committee of congregational leaders who understand how important the usage of our building is to each of us, a schedule has been developed with our contractors that enables the majority of Touro’s gathering spaces to be in full use throughout most of the construction period. These spaces include:

— Main Sanctuary
— Forgotston Chapel
— Grant Meyer Garden Pavilion
— Jacobs Social Hall
— Shushan Assembly

Of course, as in any major construction project, the function of some of our spaces will be compromised at times, and we will all experience some inconvenience. While the Education Building will be under construction and inaccessible for much of the year, an excellent plan has been developed to support our children’s learning without interruption. At various times during the project, you will find that sidewalks and parking spaces adjacent to our building may be unavailable, and that access to the building may be affected. We are committed to minimizing your inconvenience and will keep you fully informed every step of the way so that you can plan accordingly.

To provide the most current information, the Lifting the Sky page on our website will include access to this blog regularly updated with the construction timeline, progress, and notifications of work that may impact congregants and visitors. Please know that we are also communicating with our neighbors, both residences and businesses, through the Touro Bouligny Neighborhood Association and by mailings to each address. Our goal is to maintain active communication to minimize the inconvenience to everyone affected by the ongoing work. We will do our best to achieve this goal.

The generosity and commitment of our congregational family is the foundation of this exciting project. Again, I extend my deepest thanks to those of you who have already made a gift to the Lifting the Sky Capital Campaign and to those of you who will do so in the coming months. The planned renewal of our magnificent building will be worth all we are asked to give to it and more. I look forward to seeing you soon as we return home to Touro Synagogue.

Warm regards,