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Temple Shalom, Christian church, Orthodox day school sharing space at TS

Temple Shalom is leasing space to the Victory Christian Church and new Kentucky Torah Day School in what has become a unque space-sharing arrangement in Jewish Louisville. (photo provided by Carol Savkovich)

In a unique experiment for Jewish Louisville, a local synagogue is leasing space to a church and an Orthodox-Jewish day school.
So far, according to Temple Shalom President Rich Goldwin, everyone is managing.
“The church is here on Sunday morning and Wednesday evenings,” Goldwin said. “The school is here during the day, not in the evening, and our big times are Friday nights and Saturday mornings (for the synagogue).
“You have a calendar and you make sure nobody conflicts,” he added. “It’s just a matter of wanting to figure it out and talking to each other.”
Kentucky Torah Day School (KTD) is the newest tenant, now its first year of existence, while Victory Christian Church (VCC) has called Temple Shalom home for three years.
“We were at various locations before coming to Temple Shalom,” said Pastor Ron Coleman. “One day, while we were holding our services at a Ramada Inn, I was driving around town. I passed by the temple and I wondered what would happen. I thought, you won’t know unless you ask.”
“Originally, Coleman said, he didn’t know how the church would be accepted by Temple Shalom.
“That was a concern of ours,” he said, “but once we got to talking back and forth, everything worked out very well. People hear a lot of things about how Jews and Christians don’t like each other. But we found out we have the same hopes and desires. It has worked out great.”
In fact, Goldwin and other congregants have gone to VCC services while the pastor has spoken at a Shabbat service.
Coleman also noted that VCC’s history is not unlike Temple Shalom’s, which worshipped at the JCC, Bellarmine University, then a house, before moving into its current building.
“Our paths were similar,” he said. “It made us all feel good.”
Space sharing was identified by the just-completed Rosov study as a way to sustain Jewish institutions in Louisville, but Temple Shalom has taken the concept a step further by housing a Christian entity.
It’s not unheard of, though. Churches and synagogues in other parts of the country have shared space.
While VCC has been around a few years, KTD is brand new and, for some time, didn’t know where it would be based.
Then its real estate agent approached Temple Shalom.
“They pushed very hard to make this happen,” Head of School Rabbi Yitzy Mandel said of the synagogue’s administration. “They saw an opportunity for a collaboration and an opportunity for additional revenue. There was tremendous effort to work together.”
There were issues, Goldwin said, one of which being the classroom space KTD needed. Temple Shalom members responded by knocking out a wall between two existing classrooms.
“We all have spent time together throwing ideas out, trying to figure out how to do things to help the community,” Goldwin said. “There’s nothing that can’t be resolved with simple communication.”
For now, KTD has just five students, but Mandel foresees growth.
“To get the school off the ground took a lot of work and money,” he said. “However, if you come into the school, you’ll see a great and very functional school. The teachers are phenomenal, the kids are happy, and the sky is the limit.”
A potential issue is Temple Shalom’s plans for the future. Administrators are considering a move to the Klein Center at The Temple campus on Lime Kiln Lane. Representatives of both congregations are currently in negotiations.
Goldwin has been upfront with his tenants about that.
“If we make a deal to go somewhere else, we won’t be out of this building before the end of their school year, so they will be OK,” he said. “The school and church know about our potential plans. We’ve been talking with the church about moving with us, but we might be moving to a bigger building than I think they would want.”
Coleman said his church also has its eyes on the future.
“We originally came here with the intentions of not being at Temple Shalom for more than three to five years. It is three years right now. We have our eyes open; we are looking for the possibility of another home.”
Mandell said he’s in regular contact with synagogue leaders.
“I see Rich every day; I see the Temple Shalom Rabbi [Jacowitz Chottiner] and the secretary every day,” he said. “We like working together. We communicate all the time, so who knows what the future holds.”

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