Neighboring Jewish Congregation Opens Doors to Parishoners From Damaged Berkeley Church | NBC Bay Area
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Neighboring Jewish Congregation Opens Doors to Parishoners From Damaged Berkeley Church

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    Members of the First Congregational Church in Berkeley lost their place of worship indefinitely after a three-alarm fire ripped through their brick home in September. (Published Monday, Oct. 24, 2016)

    Members of the First Congregational Church in Berkeley lost their place of worship indefinitely after a three-alarm fire ripped through their brick home in September.

    Lending a helpful hand, a nearby Jewish congregation has opened its doors and welcomed the displaced members to practice in their synagogue beginning Sunday.

    Leaders of Congregation Beth El located on Oxford Street notified its worshippers earlier in the week that they would be providing a "mitzvah," or good deed, and allow the First Congregational Church to have a temporary home without having to pay a single cent.

    "It's fantastic," said First Congregational Church member Scott Sporte. "It's great the Congregation Beth El could invite us here. They were so quick and they're been so welcoming."

    The act of sharing act works perfectly for both parties. Church services are held on Sundays, while the Jewish Sabbath is celebrated on Saturday.

    As for the burned church campus, which suffered roughly $2 million in damage, Sporte said that authorities and leaders are still assessing the damage, but they hope to begin repairs soon and return to their sanctuary sometime in early 2017.

    "Right now we're just determining whether the walls can be saved or whether the building needs to be knocked down and we can start again," Sporte said.

    Aside from the sanctuary's status, church officials are unsure if they will be able to save surrounding office spaces located on the campus, Sporte said.

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