It’s been eleven years in the making, but the Chabad Synagogue on Seven Locks Road dedicated its new sanctuary on June 13. The sanctuary portion of the temple has been operational and in use for a few months, but it is just now complete. "We moved in before we were done," said Jeffery Cohen, president of the congregation.
The new sanctuary was dedicated in the memory of Daniel Mandel, an Israeli solder who died in Nablus during an attempt "to capture three wanted terrorists" last year, according to the program distributed at the dedication.
"He was a very brave young man," Cohen said.
"We are humbled to dedicate our sanctuary to a proud Jewish soldier," said Mendel Bluming, rabbi of the congregation.
The Mandel family moved from Toronto, Canada to Alon Shvut, a West Bank town near Jerusalem. It was on a trip to Israel that Cohen met Mandel through a friend. "Daniel once picked me up at the airport," Cohen said. On the drive back, Mandel had his rifle sitting on the car’s dashboard – Israeli soldiers typically carry their weapons with them even when they are off-duty.
When the pair drove through a tunnel, Mandel took his rifle off the dash and cocked it, Cohen said. "‘Just a little precaution,’ he said," said Cohen. Cohen explained that Mandel was calm the whole time. "That was Daniel, always calm," Cohen said.
Mandel’s mother, Cheryl Mandel who lives in Israel, was scheduled to attend but was unable to as a result of some last-minute difficulties. She addressed the group of about 100 people via speaker phone.
"Daniel, and when I say Daniel I mean all of the people in the Israeli Army, was willing to give his life for what he believed in," she said.
She has two other sons in the Army now. Military service is compulsory in Israel when a person reaches the age of 18. "We love our children, which is why we let them serve in front line units," Mandel said. "Because there must be a Jewish state and it must be strong."