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Yom Rishon, 12 Heshvan 5779


Congregation Children of Israel is approaching
the 50th Anniversary of its sanctuary.

After a generation of use, it is now in major need of repair and renovation. We ask you to join us in reaffirming our commitment to our congregation and future generations by participating in Congregation Children of Israel’s Sanctuary and Social Hall Renovation Campaign.Congregation Children of Israel is approaching the 50th Anniversary of our sanctuary. After a generation of use, it is now in major need of repair and renovation. We ask you to join us in reaffirming our commitment to our congregation and future generations by participating in Congregation Children of Israel’s Sanctuary and Social Hall Renovation Campaign.

CCI is inspired to create a sanctuary incorporating natural light, handicap-accessible space, a professional sound system and other significant enhancements and improvements. The plan also unites the sanctuary and social hall for flexible seating and forms an inspiring space for our many social, worship, and community events.  

Click here to make a gift or pledge online



Elements of the CCI Sanctuary Renovation Master Plan

  • Fully re-imagined and renovated Sanctuary and Social Hall with flexible seating and a full-height folding wall

  • New inspiring Sanctuary entryExteriorRendering170203

  • Small addition on the east side of the building expands the Sanctuary, providing additional seating and an enlarged Bima, a Jewish pulpit, with a new Ark

  • Windows and skylights are added to the Bima to provide natural light in the space

  • North wall of the Sanctuary becomes glass, with a view onto the new Sanctuary Garden

  • Dedicated, raised seating provided in the Choir Loft on the north side of the Bima

  • Entries to both the Sanctuary and Social Hall are reworked, improving visibility and flow from the lobby into the Sanctuary

  • Handicap-accessible Bima

  • Fully integrated sound system

  • Prayer Book Storage in Vestibule

  • Display Cases

  • New Sisterhood Gift Shop

  • Storage Areas

  • Refreshed rest rooms, new roof and HVAC

View this video tour, narrated by Havivah Saltz, a junior in high school and CCI member.  


Frequently Asked Questions

How much will the renovation cost, and how will CCI pay for it?
The total cost estimate is approximately $1.4 million. The Board has approved committing up to $200,000 to the project if it goes forward. The remaining amount will need to be raised through charitable contributions.

Who is the architect?
CCI has hired Houser Walker of Atlanta.  

How long will construction be?
Once the funding is committed, the Houser Walker Architecture will submit a final plan within six months, and construction is estimated to take another eight months. We will have a detailed plan to continue worship and other Temple functions during construction. 

When was CCI’s last renovation? 
The last renovation was in 1996 when the Carol Bush Education Center was annexed to the building. The renovation expanded the Religious School but did not include changes to the sanctuary.

How do I make a gift or a pledge?
CCI depends on the generous contributions from its members and the community at large to make this renovation a success. You can make a pledge or gift online today by clicking here. If you prefer to make a gift with a check, please send your check to Congregation Children of Israel, 115 Dudley Dr., Athens, GA 30606, and please make it payable to Congregation Children of Israel with “Renovation” on the memo line. If you have any questions or concerns about giving, please contact the Campaign Co-Chairs Mel Berzack ( or Michael Ripps (
How much should I give?
Any amount counts! Regardless of the amount each individual contributes, we are aiming for close to 100% contribution from our temple membership. That being said, if each family donated $5,600, we would achieve our goal. We know that many families are not able to commit to such a gift, and we hope that some families are able to give more. We are thankful for the generosity of all who contribute! Pledges can be paid over a three-year time frame.

Will there be natural light?
NewFloorPlanYes. Newly designed features include a massive picture window on the north wall of the sanctuary (the left side as you face the Ark) with a garden view; clerestory windows to the south; and narrow windows from floor to ceiling, and along the ceiling at the back of the bima.

What’s happening to the bima?
It’s getting bigger, with a new Ark and main lectern, raised seating area for the choir (with a spot for the accompanist), and a second lectern. The back wall is stone, and continuous from interior to exterior. This will provide innumerable improvements in our services, such as allowing all Consecration students to be able to stand under the ark, and for B’nei Mitzvah families to fit comfortably on the bima.

What’s happening to the seating in the sanctuary?
CCI will have flexible seating for about 200 people (up from about 145 at present), and there will be a center aisle. We will have large, individual chairs rather than pews, which will allow for creative and varied seating configurations.

What’s happening to the Social Hall?
The Social Hall will be renovated with the same floor, ceiling and walls as the new Sanctuary; so when the partition is open, it will function as a unified, sacred space. The floor will be beautiful and graceful for the sacred function of the Sanctuary, but also durable and cleanable for the realities of the Social Hall. The partition will be at the same location as it currently is, so the size of the Social Hall won’t change. The partition will be 16 feet tall. It will have double doors built in for everyday movement between the Sanctuary and Social Hall and will operate automatically when we need it retracted.

What about the surrounding spaces?
The entry to the Sanctuary will be clearer and more elegant with a permanent space to store books immediately inside the doors. The Gift Shop will be moved to the room next door and renovated. There will still be a small room bridging the Bima to the hallway, which can be used for storage. The restrooms will be thoroughly refreshed with some plumbing updated.

What will remain the same?
Our congregational home will have the same basic footprint that we know and love. We will keep our Memorial Boards, now both on the south wall, as well as the Eternal Light, and the large Menorahs on the bima, which have stood guard outside the Social Hall for many years, and were fixtures on the bima at our original downtown location. There is also a wooden bench pew from our original sanctuary and it will be placed in the new sanctuary. and We will also keep our current bima side tables.

What about access?
There will be a wheelchair ramp to the bima, and a new audio system will use modern technology for better sound as well as assisting those with hearing needs.

Questions or Comments?
If you have questions about the Sanctuary and Social Hall Renovation, please do not hesitate to contact Mel Berzack and Michael Ripps, Co-Chairs of the Renovation Committee.

Mel Berzack, Campaign Co-Chair:
Michael Ripps, Campaign Co-Chair:  


Click here to make a gift or pledge online





Click here to make a gift or pledge online

Choir/Cantorial Fund

Anyone who has attended services at our Temple has heard the high quality of musical performance. Although the musicians and singers are Temple members who provide their own instruments, time, and expenses, there are further costs such as Choir director’s rehearsals and appearances at Shabbat and High Holiday services, purchase robes, and sheet music. Athens Georgia is a music town and if you've enjoyed what you've heard, please donate to enhance our services. Thank you!

"Have a Seat" Project ($15 per chair)

Please help us replace our rusted and breaking folding chairs! Every time there's an overflow crowd in the social hall, particularly during the High Holy days, we bring out old metal chairs that are in bad shape. To help with budgetary concerns, the Fundraising committee is asking every family member unit to contribute one chair each ($15.00) to the Temple. We would like this done by Rosh Hashanah. Thank you!


General Fund

Not sure what to donate to? This is the "everything" bucket. This fund supports general Temple operations such as utilities, office equipment, furniture and many other expenses. This fund helps “Congregation Children of Israel go".


Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund

All Rabbis are in a unique position in the community. He is with us after we're born, when we are in school, when we become a woman and man in the Jewish community, when we marry, when we are sick and when we pass away. Our Rabbi has a window into our personal lives like none other. He knows about problems in congregants’ lives that may only need a little financial assistance to alleviate. If you feel that our Rabbi should be able to use these funds for general charitable community purposes and make a difference in lives of others, please donate to empower him here. Thank you.


Religious School

Educating the next generation is of primary importance to Judaism. Make your donation for the Jewish future in Athens Georgia here. This goes directly to the school operating budget and supports supplementing special school events, equipment and supplies. Thank you so much.


Schwartz Symposium Fund

Sandy and Florence Schwartz have been long time members of our congregation and served in many leadership capacities. Together with their sons, Ron and Dale, they have endowed a colloquium and speakers fund to allow us to bring to Athens and hear presentations, lectures, and teachings related to Jewish life and culture. As an example, we host the renowned Annual Schwartz Symposium to honor the Schwartz family. If you wish to help maintain this way of honoring the Schwartz family, please consider making a donation to it.

Shalom Coffee Purchase

As a special fundraiser, our fundraising committee offers you to order your Shalom Coffee cans ($10.00 each) provided by Jittery Joe’s as a tasty way to support CCI. It is a special medium blend packaged in a beautifully designed label with some information about our congregation. Please consider this also as an option as gifts for fiends and relatives.

Click here to purchase Shalom Coffee


Torah/Prayer Book Fund

Our various prayer books (Shabbat for weekly services and Machzor for High Holidays get a lot of use and are in need for replacements and, with increasing membership, we happily need to purchase more of them. With a nameplate supplied by the Office, you can honor or memorialize important individuals in your life by purchasing a book or donating to this fund. Donations to this fund are also used for the maintenance and repair of the Temple’s Torah scrolls.


Congregation Children of Israel Rabbis

(Reverse chronological order)


Eric Linder (Current) 

Ronald Gerson (Emeritus)

Paul Tuchman

Matthew Derby

Fred Raskind

Morton Deutsch

Max Kurt

Frank Fischer

Nathaniel Zimskin

Morton Speer

Nathan Barasch

Rudolph Rudolfsky

Samuel Glassner

Morris Lichtenstein

T. R. Schwab

Sanford Saperstein

Albert Finesilver

Lawrence Block

Abraham Shusterman

Joseph Utschen

Ferdinand Hirsch

Abraham Feldman

Isidore Kolowitz

A. Rubenstein

Gabriel Jacobs