On August 13, 2021, the former O’Bryon Hall, at 3773 Wilkinson Road, Sarasota, becomes the new sanctuary of Congregation Kol HaNeshama. The sanctuary is on the grounds of St. Wilfred Episcopal Church. The path approaching the building, and the sanctuary itself, will have signage identifying KH.
The decision to share the campus followed a thorough search that began months ago, after we learned that in the near future Southgate Community Center would no longer be available. We are grateful to Rabbi Jennifer and Immediate Past President Linda Milberg for the long, thorough search for new space; to Toby Deutsch and Richard Belle, for their efforts as co-chairs of the Transition Committee; and to the many congregants who have been working on countless aspects connected with successful relocation.
There are innumerable positives about our new home: The interior is more comfortable, adaptable and accessible than our former home, and we have been permitted the freedom to decorate and beautify the space to make it truly our own. We enjoy a fully equipped kitchen, complete with a commercial grade dishwasher. Now, we can use plates, cups and flatware instead of wasteful, environmentally harmful paper and plastic. We have pleasant restrooms and a large, well-lighted parking lot that is free of the tripping hazards that surround Southgate. We also enjoy a lovely, peaceful garden for meditation and prayer.
Finally, our move has introduced us to the caring members of the St. Wilfred Congregation. One aspect of their warm welcome was an invitation to participate in their outstanding food pantry, which feeds hundreds of local individuals on a weekly basis.
It is fitting that the document KH signed with St. Wilfred’s is not a “lease,” but a “sharing agreement.” The relationship between the two congregations already appears to be a marriage made in heaven.
by Richard Belle
What makes a congregation a vibrant, loving community is not its buildings, nor its landscape, nor even its most sacred possessions, but the way the members relate to each other. At Kol HaNeshama, we relate to each other with chesed, loving-kindness. It is this KH culture of care and compassion that I have come to treasure.
So, if the buildings and grounds are not really that important, why am I so excited about our move to our new home? Because our new location will allow our KH culture to thrive.
We are exchanging our beautiful Southgate stream for a gorgeous, renovated garden that will enhance our prayer – whether a meditative Amidah, a special Havdalah, or perhaps even an entire outdoor service if we so wish. We are transforming a nondescript room into a sanctuary we can happily consider our own. And, most importantly, we are transitioning from a role as tenants of an impersonal entity to partners with another congregation that cherishes many of the same things we do.
I have long felt that Kol HaNeshama congregants are among the most creative and loving people I have ever encountered. Moving into our new home will inspire these traits to flourish.