The pending sale of the 33-year-old Bet Breira Samuel Or Olom synagogue building at 9400 SW 87 Ave. in Kendall has caused its members to explore affiliation with other area congregations, this newspaper has learned from Temple correspondence.
Temple officials declined to comment on reasons for closing although one source requesting to remain anonymous said “financial hardships” caused the action.
Rabbi Jaime Klein Aklepi has written to congregation friends that she will become an associate rabbi at Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest, following 19 years at Temple Bet Breira.
The congregation “will cease daily operation June 30” but continue to maintain the grounds and a skeleton office staff, according to a letter distributed by Joe Penchansky, president of the board of directors, advising Temple membership of its coming plan to close doors.
The letter noted that the board of directors has scheduled meeting at 7:30 p.m. May 25 to continue its discussions reviewing potential affiliations with four other Miami-Dade congregations — including Beth Am, Temple Judea, Bet Shira and Beth David — and the possibility of “downsizing” for another unspecified location, west of S. Dixie Highway (US1).
Penchansky’s letter included a summary of affiliation preferences by 214 responding members that showed nearly half (49%) chose to join Temple Beth Am at 5950 SW 88 St. in Pinecrest, one of the area’s oldest congregations, founded in 1955. Teams of members were organized to discuss affiliations.
Currently, the building “remains on the market,” Penchansky noted, adding that “once we have a contract and a closing date, we will schedule a congregational meeting to share the details and to get congregational approval.”
To retire overall indebtedness, the congregation was asked to review a proposal that would allot net building sale proceeds on a proportional basis to those members joining a new congregation.
The temple building with its dramatic three-story exterior of tiered triangle architecture carries an assessment value of $1.5 million and an additional $1,195,288 million for the 149,411-square-foot site, a total market value of $2,695,288, according to Miami-Dade tax assessment records.
Bet Breira changed its name to Bet Breira Samu-El Or Olom in 2009, incorporating another congregation to serve both Reformed and Conservative Jewish members.
Rabbi Aklepi came to Bet Breira as associate rabbi in 1997, became senior rabbi in 2004 and was instrumental in the merger with Samu-El Or Olom members in 2009.