Beth Am finally ‘Building the Dream’

Construction is underway at Congregation Beth Am in Carmel Valley.
Construction is underway at Congregation Beth Am in Carmel Valley.
(Karen Billing)

Congregation Beth Am has come a long way since its humble beginnings in a former tire shop in Solana Beach in 1982. The Carmel Valley campus is currently undergoing a renovation, bringing new buildings and increased space for its pre-school, administration and classrooms for after-school and adult programs. The renovation will take Beth Am from 11,000 square feet of mostly modified construction trailers to 21,000 square feet of new facility buildings to join the sanctuary and social hall.

After 17 years in Carmel Valley, the expansion proved necessary.

“We were turning kids away because we didn’t have the space,” said Executive Director Mark Gulner of Beth Am’s well-known preschool program.

Beth Am embarked on a $10 million capital campaign, “Building the Dream,” co-chaired by Wayne Harris, Jeff Liber and Ingram Chodorow, who passed away in February 2016. So far they have raised $8.2 million and Gulner is confident they will meet that $10 million fundraising mark.

The plans for the new buildings reflect Beth Am’s goal of connecting people, Gulner said. The former campus layout made the congregation feel a little separated — the new buildings will be linked by a long “spine” corridor, everything coming together in a new central courtyard.

The congregation celebrated a Building the Dream groundbreaking on Sept. 25 and the “bittersweet” demolition of the old buildings took place in early November. Currently preschool continues in temporary trailers and after-school and administration programs are being housed at San Diego Jewish Academy.

The new campus is set to open in September 2017. Congregation Beth Am is located at 5050 Del Mar Heights Road, San Diego, 92130. Visit