The Shul that Love Built

By Ellen Harris, Cleveland Jewish News

A sell-out crowd of 700 gathered at the InterContinental Hotel Oct. 17 to celebrate the opening of the Chabad Jewish Center of Solon's new synagogue and to honor major benefactors, Gary and Diane Waxman. Spirits were high as guests packed the ballroom for the benefit dinner, eagerly anticipating the appearance of keynote speaker Elie Wiesel. Emcee Jennifer Goldberg kept the event moving, introducing a brief video outlining the remarkable success story of the 12-year-old congregation.

Rabbi Zushe Greenberg, Chabad's spiritual leader, reminisced humorously about the early days, then recognized Mark Milstein for volunteering his expertise in overseeing the building of the synagogue.

The usually unflappable rabbi became emotional when he thanked his good friend Gary Waxman for his generous contribution toward building the Jewish center. Their common denominator was a complete dedication to the late Rebbe's teachings, Greenberg told his audience.

In appreciation of Waxman's commitment, the rabbi surprised him with a gift of one of the two precious dollar bills Greenberg had received from the hands of the Rebbe. (The Rebbe often gave out dollar bills to his visitors.)

In his own brief remarks, the self-effacing Waxman told the audience, "I didn't feel the daily presence of G‑d in my life until I met the Rebbe 13 years ago." That meeting transformed Waxman's life and led to his deep, ongoing appreciation of the loving connection between man and G‑d, he said.

The "unconditional love" that Waxman spoke of seemed to permeate the ballroom as guests warmly greeted each other, chatted with Wiesel, and praised Zushe and Miriam Greenberg for their tireless efforts in establishing a Chabad "outpost" in Solon.

Among those enjoying the evening were Susie and Jeffrey Orchen, Marilyn and Norman Swirsky (he did the interior design for the new building), Hildee and Gary Weiss, Alissa and David Cunix, Mary and Harold Chaitoff, Sheila and Marty Silverman, Marcie and Dale Rubin, Steve Hartman and Karen Tscherne, and Leonardo Polonsky, who had his own story of meeting the Rebbe.

Most participants agreed it was a memorable night celebrating a landmark event: the first synagogue to be built in Solon.