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Historic synagogue gets much-needed restoration

READ MORE: Historic synagogue gets much-needed restoration

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Wilmington is home to a piece of religious history. Now the oldest Jewish temple in the Tar Heel State is getting some much needed work.

The president of Temple of Israel, Richard Mendel, says the goal of the restoration process is to maintain the original appearance and integrity of the building.

Erected in 1875, the historic Temple of Israel at 4th and Market Streets in Wilmington began to show water damage and desperately needed some TLC.

"We felt as a congregation that we owed it to our forefathers to restore this building to its original grandeur and durability," Mandel said.

The durability will be aided with some modern materials. Crews will replace the wooden columns around the windows with fiberglass replicas to helping ensure they last for many more years.

So far, only a section in the front has been restored. The large stained glass, diamond-paned windows are the main concern.

"We will be removing all of the windows and rebuilding those just as we have done to the front of the building," Mandel said.

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, begins at sunset Wednesday. Mendel says there is a special significance in restoring the temple during the week-long celebration

"It's a renewed event every year, and our temple by being rebuilt is being renewed," Mandel said. "We expect the tradition of both Hanukkah and other Jewish holidays and the temple to exist for a long, long time."

After the front side of the temple is finished, restoration on either the north or south side will begin. The interior of the temple will be redone last. The entire front of the temple is expected to be completed by mid January. The synagogue says the project will cost high six figures.

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