Darchei Noam and the Irony of it All
Growing up in a Jewish household, raising a Jewish family of my own, supporting a synagogue and Jewish organizations, I never dreamed that one day I would oppose the building of a new synagogue. And yet, this is only one of the many ironies I have encountered dealing with the proposed construction of Darchei Noam, the first religious facility to be built on a residential lot in Northbrook at 3465 Techny. Here are other ironies I am facing as this process evolves:
The leadership of a religious organization was deceptive about plans to construct its building in the midst of a neighborhood, failing to inform the neighbors of their intentions and misleading them once their plans were made public.
On multiple occasions, leaders and members of this organization have stated they would not want a synagogue with a parking lot in their backyard, and yet they are trying to inflict that reality on others in their community. What happened to the “Do unto others…” philosophy?
Many of the same leaders of Darchei Noam had a dream to build a synagogue approximately a dozen years ago. And they built it, fulfilling their dream! What is now wrong with the synagogue they built less than a mile away on the corner of Willow and Landwehr? Don’t they realize there are four synagogues within a mile of their proposed new site? And why are they entitled to special zoning rights that disallow neighborhood input, when all other religious facilities in Northbrook were built with formal community involvement.
In an age of changing weather patterns, increased flooding, and the need for more green space, this religious organization, whose primary purpose is to care for others and the world (Tikun Olam), proposes to build a facility which maximizes the permissible amount of asphalt and cement on the property, minimizes the greenery, and exposes its neighbors to worsening flooding in their homes.
And lastly, a “community” synagogue is being proposed in a neighborhood in which the vast majority of the community is against any non-residential construction on the site. I thought that religious facilities were supposed to bring communities together, not tear them apart.