It was six years in the making, and what began as an effort to raise $1.5 million for its construction eventually cost three times that amount when its doors finally opened in April.

            But Chabad of Summerlin/Desert Shores has emerged as one of the most magnificent synagogues in Las Vegas. Its exterior is constructed of Jerusalem stone, and it has an interior that includes an impressive Aron Kodesh, bima and other furnishings and trappings of cherry wood, much of which were designed and actually built in Israel.

            The Chabad facility is also one of the most complete Jewish community centers with far more than just a sanctuary that provides full services for prayer every day of the year, as was the original plan when the fund-raising campaign was initiated at a dinner in April, 2000.

             The cost escalated into three times the original plan because the Chabad Center was expanded to include the finest, up-to-date facilities for education, socializing, catered affairs, exchanging Jewish thoughts, and bringing the most fundamental ingredients of Jewish life and culture to a community.

            In essence, Chabad of Summerlin/Desert Shores was designed as the quintessential model of a magnetic force to serve as a catalyst for the development and expansion of a Jewish community.

            Desert Shores was chosen as the site for the Chabad Center because of its growing Jewish population. Ironically, the number of Jewish families in the area has grown even more because of the central location of so complete a Jewish facility. The neighboring area provides many integral elements of culture, learning, recreation, kosher foods and other necessities for furthering the lives of Jewish adults and children.

            The two-story center contains a sanctuary that can accommodate more than 300 worshipers in comfortable, tufted arm-chairs, classrooms for a children’s Hebrew school, libraries and computer facilities for children and adults, a huge social hall, mikvah and separate facilities for men and women, the only utensil mikvah in Nevada, a gift shop, commercial kitchen with complete banquet facilities for all types of catering, a rabbi’s study and offices.

            “I feel truly blessed to be in this community, where more and more people from Desert Shores, Sun City and the rest of the Summerlin area have been so supportive throughout the construction process,”said Rabbi Yisroel Schanowitz. Borrowing a popular phrase that “if you build it they will come,” Schanowitz added that he and his wife, Shternie, never dreamt the extent of growth and expansion of the Jewish population in the area which they have witnessed since their arrival in 1994.

            The process of constructing the Chabad Center was slow and tedious, taking six years because of the expansiveness of the plan to have a complete center rather that just a synagogue. “We sacrificed years in the process, utilizing the store-front facility that was in the same vicinity, in order to bring about a Chabad Center which we are so proud to have,” Schanowitz explained. He added: “We have come a long way, and we hope to continue to raise the funding needed to reach our goal of completing construction of all facilities at the Chabad Center that are in our plans. In many dedications of this kind, people tend to cheer themselves on their past accomplishments to make facilities like this happen. I would rather look to the potential for an ever brighter future. Shternie and I are very confident that many more people will move to this community, and that the Chabad Center will be the focus of their interest. But the goal is not just to have people move here as it is to make Judaism and Torah learning available and more accessible to Jews from all walks of life and levels of observance.”

            Mindful of the wisdom and insights of the late Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Schanowitz added, “the Rebbe always talked about bringing to fruition his goal of spreading the light of Judaism to every corner of the globe. This Chabad is one of more than 3,000 Chabad Centers worldwide.”

            “The Rebbe sent Rabbi (Shea) Harlig as the first emissary to Las Vegas in 1991. We came three years later. Our newest rabbi, Chaim Ozer Metal, is now the ninth Chabad rabbi in Las Vegas. Rabbi Chaim Ozer and Racheli Metal will serve as our program and youth directors,” Schanowitz said.  He talked with much enthusiasm about the upcoming holiday season at Chabad of Summerlin/Desert Shores. “We have some exciting things coming up,” he said.

            The annual Community Bar BQ will be held in Aloha Shores Park at Cheyenne and Buffalo at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 27 and is open to all families. A Holiday Fair, in preparation for the High Holidays, will be held at the Chabad Center on Sunday, Sept. 10. A weekly Hebrew Reading class for beginners is being held in August and September. For more information about the Chabad Center and its programs call 855-0770.

             Later this fall there will be a gala dinner to dedicate the sanctuary, which will become known as Sanctuary Beit Alon, in memory of Alon Iny. At that time Chabad of Summerlin/Desert Shores will formally become known as the Schwartz and Iny Chabad Center. Brothers Ronnie and Noam Schwartz, and Haskell Iny, father of Alon Iny, were major benefactors in constructing the Chabad Center.