The truck and trailer labored into the parking lot of the former Bank of America branch in Clearwater with a hefty deposit.
On the trailer lay Chabad of Clearwater’s Torah ark, also known as the Aron Kodesh in Hebrew. It’s the ornamental chamber that resides within a synagogue to house sacred torah scrolls used for public worship.
Helping Rabbi Levi Hodakov with the move was the ark’s builder, Jim Stilwell of Largo, who carefully positioned the ark into its resting spot. Several of Hodakov’s eight children explored a large Diebold bank vault that remains in the building. They plan to keep the vault, while the six teller stations will be removed to make more room in the sanctuary.
Hodakov said the move, which is being done between Purim and Passover, is expected to last through the weekend.
All kinds of Jewish books — prayer books, children’s story books, Jewish-themed novels, Jewish law, Jewish mysticism, Kabbalah, and the printed books of the torah — will fill the shelves in the new building.
The move makes a new location for the Feldman Campus for Jewish Life, the Tabacinic Chabad Center, and the headquarters for Chabad of Clearwater.
The purchase of the building on an acre of land was facilitated through lead donors Marvin and Linda Feldman and Moris and Lillian Tabacinic. It will serve to expand the Chabad’s programs and services, Hodakov said.
The first major event to be held at the new location will be the Passover Seder on April 5.
“This is a testament to the growth of the community and their commitment to Jewish traditions and values that we hold so strong,” Hodakov said.
How will they use the vault?
Hodakov said they will hide the Afikoman, which are pieces broken off a matzo, put aside during a Seder to be eaten at the end of the meal. It is traditionally hidden during the Seder so children can search for it.