Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, far right, joined other elected officials and Har Sinai Temple congregants in a groundbreaking ceremony at the templeFull size photo

Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, far right, joined other elected officials and Har Sinai Temple congregants in a groundbreaking ceremony at the temple's new location at Route 31 and Denow Road in Pennington April 27.

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Temple celebrates its 150th Anniversary in Mercer County with new location in Pennington

PENNINGTON, N.J. -Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes joined Har Sinai leaders and other elected officials today at a groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate the historic Har Sinai Temple's new location in Pennington.

In front of a room packed with Har Sinai congregants and leaders, including Rabbi Stuart Pollack, Hughes said the groundbreaking at the site off Route 31 was a momentous day for Mercer County.

"We are so pleased you have again found a home here in Mercer County," Hughes said, referring to the temple's move from Trenton. "This is especially true because I know Har Sinai will reach out to all people, support the community through education, and instill the spirit of life in the community around you."

Other elected officials who joined in the groundbreaking included Mercer County Freeholder Elizabeth Muoio, Congressman Rush Holt, State Sen. Shirley Turner, Hopewell Mayor Vanessa Sandom, Hopewell Borough Councilman Paul Anzano, and Pennington Committeeman Bob DiFalco.

Rabbi Pollack led the remarks by saying the torrential downpour Friday shouldn't be looked upon as a bad omen.

"Rain is a sign of blessing, a sign of rebirth," he said. "We are blessed today. Any time a place of worship is constructed it not only influences the adherence to a belief system but also influences in a positive way this community. This building will be the focal point of the hopes and dreams and yearnings of a congregation."

Har Sinai is one of the oldest religious institutions in central New Jersey. It was formed in Trenton on Nov. 19, 1857 as a cemetery association and then incorporated as a congregation in 1860.

The temple was located in several places in the city for the past 150 years, and was located for the past 80 years on Bellevue Avenue.

The temple acquired its new location in December 2006. The site will be home to a state-of-the-art religious school, office, chapel and sanctuary. Construction on the religious school and chapel is already underway and scheduled for completion in fall 2007.

Holt, an avid supporter of the temple, said he too was pleased Har Sinai is remaining in Mercer County and noted the ceremony was taking place in the same week in which Israel celebrates the anniversary of its independence.

Sen. Turner, meanwhile, presented the rabbi and the congregation with a joint resolution by the State Senate and Assembly honoring the temple.

Hughes concluded the ceremony with his colleagues in public service and Har Sinai members by ceremonially putting shovels in the ground at the site.