WINDSOR, Ont. — Shaar Hashomayim Synagoue in Windsor wants to forestall a potentially more expensive major renovation project down the road, so it has started a campaign to raise $100,000 to fix major parts of the building’s roof before more damage happens.
“If you nip it in the bud and you catch it quickly enough and you stop patching and do it right, you can save it,” synagogue president Brian Lazarus said.
The 1929 building, the city’s most prominent synagogue, located near downtown Windsor and home to an Orthodox congregation, is starting to see wear and tear on various parts of the roof, resulting in leakage inside the building, with staining of the main sanctuary ceiling.
“This past winter, with the amount of snow and freezing and thawing we had, it got to the point where there was some major interior damage done,” Lazarus said.
Roofers and engineers were called, and they pointed out some deficiencies that needed to be corrected. “It’s beyond the point of patchwork,” he said.
This includes all-new lifetime shingles on the pitched portion of the roof, which covers three-quarters of the sanctuary. As well, four domes have to be resealed.
“All the old caulking has to be taken out around the domes, resealed, and a new pitch roof put on,” he said.
The synagogue needs $100,000 for the repairs and has just embarked on the campaign, which has reached out beyond Windsor.
A recent ad in The CJN was purchased not by the congregation, but by an ex-Windsorite whose family was one of the synagogue’s founding members.
“We didn’t do that,” Lazarus said. “That was the private individual paying for an ad who felt compelled to try and help us.”
The former congregant asked the synagogue permission, and Lazarus readily granted it.
“I said ‘Go right ahead, we can use all the assistance we can get.’”
One of the problems is the congregation’s dwindling membership, a reflection of this once-robust auto manufacturing city’s economic woes. Scores of manufacturing plants have closed over the years, and the city consistently has among Canada’s highest unemployment rates.
“The Jewish community in Windsor is shrinking,” Lazarus said. “Our member units are decreasing as people pass away and as young people move out of the city. Just like Windsor’s situation economically, young people leave, so we have a decreasing membership base and we have increasing expenses.”
Shaar Hashomayim currently has 109 member units, made up of families or single people.
Lazarus says the campaign just started, with an appeal in the monthly newsletter and a direct mail effort.
A prominent businessman who just retired from the insurance industry, Lazarus says he would also, if necessary, get on the phone and make personal appeals.
“My plan is to reach out to the members and then the community in general, and then to those who may have been here in the past and have had some connection and they may have moved out of the city,” he said.
To make donations, contact Shaar Hashomayim at firstname.lastname@example.org.