Modern Orthodox Shul Comes To Minneapolis

from_northJoppa Avenue South just got a bit more Jewish. As if being host to Torah Academy, Elijah’s Cup and Congregation Bais Yisroel wasn’t enough, Congregation Darchei Noam has just opened the doors to its brand new home at 2950 Joppa Ave S. on the corner of Minnetonka Boulevard in St. Louis Park.  Although the congregation has been praying there for some time already, it’s officially hosting a Chanukat HaBayit (dedication ceremony) August 11 at 9:30 AM and all are welcome to join in the fun.
Darchei Noam is a Modern Orthodox shul—the only one in the Twin Cities—and is a member shul of the Orthodox Union. It was founded in 2005 by a small group of dedicated families looking for a more Modern Orthodox feel and has been setting up shop anywhere it could find for the past eight years. The congregation met in the basement of various members’ homes for its first few years before moving up to… another basement. For the last several years, the shul has rented space in the education building of St. Georges Episcopal Church. Although not an ideal space, the Congregation was able to form a special relationship with the church. The cross-cultural, interfaith bond was always cordial and the two congregations enjoyed a number of successful years together. “We have nothing but warm fuzzy feelings for St. Georges,” said Judy Shapiro, immediate past president of the congregation. “They welcomed us and accommodated all our strange customs with grace … and we in turn accommodated them.”
In 2008, Darchei Noam purchased the plot of land on Joppa and set its sights on building a permanent home. Led by now-President Bob Karasov and board member Marilyn Levi-Baumgarten, the congregation’s fundraising campaign surpassed all expectations. Paired with the hard, dedicated work of the Building Committee, the results speak for themselves in the form of the beautiful new 5,000-square-foot synagogue.  “It’s a fresh start, an amazing opportunity to actually build a new synagogue,” Shapiro said. “The vast majority of us use facilities every day that someone else built. We have the [merit ] of having been the builders of something that others will use for decades to come! It’s a real honor.”
One telling quality of the congregation is that it continually stresses that the building is only as beautiful as the behavior demonstrated in it and the actions it inspires. “How we act in living out [the mitzvoth] will determine whether our building is truly a Makom Kadosh, a Holy Space,” said Congregational Rabbi Joseph Ozarowski. “God expects us to do our share in making the world and our lives kadosh.”
In addition to hosting the upcoming dedication ceremony, which is open to the entire community, the congregation hosts daily services, weekly classes and regular volunteer events at non-profits such as St. Stephens Homeless Shelter. The synagogue is also focused on youth and adult education and tries to keep its calendar full with inspiring events throughout the year. For more information on Darchei Noam, check out the synagogue’s website.
Joel Ribnick is a St. Louis Park native and regular at Congregation Darchei Noam, as well as an active participant in the Beth El Young Adults group. Joel is also a past board member of Darchei Noam.