Chabad of the Tri-Valley, which saw its Pleasanton building badly burned in a fire in 2019, will get a makeover that has locals pleased.
“I’m really excited about this attractive and contemporary building,” city planning commissioner Nancy Allen said in a meeting, as reported by the Pleasanton Weekly. “Thank you for taking it this far; you didn’t have to, and it’s really appreciated.”
The new plans will turn a shingled, somewhat shabby former Masonic temple that Chabad purchased in 2017 into a modern-looking Chabad center and preschool. Rabbi Raleigh Resnick is relieved.
“It’s been a long road,” Resnick said. “It’s so heartwarming, it really is.”
Founded in 2005 out of Resnick’s home, Chabad of the Tri-Valley is one of two synagogues serving the East Bay city of roughly 80,000.
The 2019 fire that destroyed the rear exterior of the Chabad building started in the early morning hours on a summer day right before Tisha B’Av, the holiday mourning the destruction of the ancient Temples in Jerusalem. Resnick told J. at the time that he’d been awakened around 1 a.m. by police letting him know about the fire. He raced to the Chabad center, but he was not able to enter the building to save the three Torah scrolls. Officials “said I would be arrested,” he recounted. (Firefighters were able to save the scrolls.)
The fire left the structure of the building intact, but the exterior and façade are being replaced, giving it a whole new look. It will be an aesthetic upgrade from its current appearance.
“We told the [Pleasanton city planning] committee, ‘This is the ugliest building on Hopyard Road!’” he said.
Resnick said preschool facilities were the priority, with a target opening in September 2022, but also on the wish list are a kosher kitchen and mikvah at the site. A fundraising campaign is launching soon.
The commission approval is all the more welcome following on the heels of a long struggle to get zoning permission to operate a preschool and build a playground, something neighbors objected to not long before the fire.
“That was a two-year saga for that, and then the fire, so this is the last chapter to a tumultuous ride,” Resnick said. “A sweet ending.”