This Interfaith Greenway behind Beth Sholom Synagogue and St. James Episcopal Church on Seven Locks Road was dedicated Sunday.
Photo by Peggy McEwan/The Almanac
The opening of an Interfaith Greenway behind the properties of Beth Sholom Synagogue and St. James Episcopal Church on Seven Locks Road was officially opened Sunday, Oct. 15 at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“Initially, the project set out to address drainage issues along the property line shared by Beth Sholom and St. James, and utilize space in a way which would bring our faith communities together,” Jessica Pelt, executive director of Beth Sholom Congregation, wrote in an email. “Through dry wells, grading, native plant species, and stone pathways, the Greenway is now a lovely space for our communities to share space and for our early childhood centers to learn about nature. We are already seeing our joint communities using the space, and are looking forward to the next few weeks when our respective Early Childhood Centers begin spending time in the Greenway.”
About 100 members of the two congregations attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony held on the parking lot of Beth Sholom.
The project, which turned out to be larger than first expected, started about four years ago, said Susy Altman, landscape architect for the project.
“We had a member who noticed there was pooling of water after rain along a path on a shared property line with St. James,” Pelt said. “I initially started to see if there was anything to do about drainage.”
What it turned out to be was a full-scale landscape renewal stretching from the edge of the Beth Sholom property to the far edge of that of St. James.
The congregations worked together on the plan and ended up applying for a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and a State Bond Bill to pay for the $120,000 project, Pelt said.
“This was so much fun,” said Altman, who is a member of Beth Shalom. “We had an opportunity to really play with the ground. It’s a new way of working with storm water. We want to slow [its flow].”
In addition to stemming the rush of storm water and cleaning up the standing water, the Greenway has a meandering path from one end to the other with native plants taking the place of former plantings and weeds that had grown up over the years There are also benches along the path for sitting and two “story circles” with benches for the congregations to use as outdoor classrooms.
The idea of the Greenway being an Interfaith project was much talked about during the ceremony and after. Members of both congregations enjoyed the symbolism of the work and expressed hope that it will continue to bring people together.
“I’m feeling wonderful about getting together,” said Rabbi Nissan Antine of Beth Sholom. “I’d like to offer a prayer that this is the first of many opportunities to be together.”