Welcome To The Rifkin Campus at 5200

The Rifkin Campus at 5200 is home to Congregation Achduth Vesholom and its Campus Partners: the Madge Rothschild Resource Center, the Jewish Federation of Fort WaynePurdue Fort Wayne's Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Fort Wayne Jewish Cemetery Association, the Northeast Indiana Jewish Genealogy Society, and Brightpoint Head Start. 

Located at 5200 Old Mill Road, the Rifkin Campus grew out of Congregation Achduth Vesholom's re-envisioning of its beautiful building and grounds as a Jewish community center. Our goal is to be a resource and space for the whole community to bring people together, whether for worship, educational, artistic, cultural, or recreational programs, and to promote greater understanding among all faiths.

We broke ground on October 1, 2015 for the Resource Center and also dedicated the Rifkin Campus at 5200 sign. We celebrated the grand opening of the Resource Center on April 30, 2017.

Created from stone and bronze, the sign for the Rifkin Campus was designed by Sculptor Cary Shafer. He describes the sign this way: “Limestone panels and columns mimic the Temple’s limestone facade. Negative spaces are integral to the design, separating each tenant plaque, allowing the eye to move from cube to cube, space to space, with ever-changing background scenes.” The structure consists of 8,000 pounds of Indiana Limestone, cold rolled steel, and bronze panels, each element fabricated using local resources. 

At the dedication of the Rifkin Campus sign, Danny Rifkin said, "Our family has been in Fort Wayne almost 75 years and this is our home. As grandchildren of European immigrants who came to America in search of true freedom, the preservation of Judaism here is important to us. It not only represents our own heritage, but reminds us of how lucky we are to live in a country in which all people are free to choose their religious path."

He continued: "We're proud to support the establishment of a Jewish cultural center that is part of the larger community, and believe that the vision of a place that brings diverse people together for worship, education, and the open exchange of ideas will promote the broader interests of the community."

Madge Rothschild was the great-granddaughter of Sigmund Redelsheimer, a founding member of Achduth Vesholom. At the time of her death in March 2005, she was the last Temple member to be a direct descendant of a founding family, a link that lasted 157 years. 

Attorney Robert A. Wagner, a member of the Distribution Committee for the Madge Rothschild Foundation, noted the family legacy in saying that Achduth Vesholom was Madge Rothschild’s home and that she was the fourth generation of her family to participate in congregational life.

 “She would be very proud of the fact that the congregation has continued to advance not only in regard to its structure here, but also its programs and the gathering of the many Jewish interests and needs in our community,” he said, adding that he views the Resource Center as “another chapter in the successful and contributing life of this congregation to our community.” 

The Temple has been nestled in the Woodhurst neighborhood since 1961. Earlier phases of the Rifkin Campus at 5200 project included a new circular driveway, improved parking, new office space, and updated and new handicap-accessible bathroom facilities, a new Religious School office and space for the Jewish community's Thoughtful Thursdays program.. 

Participating in the groundbreaking were (from left): Architect Richard Wismer; Mosaic Building Solutions Project Manager Steve Goodman; Marty Rifkin, Judy Rifkin, Neal Rifkin, and Danny Rifkin from the Rifkin Family Foundation; Achduth Vesholom President Joe Cohen and Rabbi Javier Cattapan; and Attorney Robert Wagner representing the Madge Rothschild Foundation. 

Find news coverage in The Journal Gazette.

Rifkin Campus at 5200 Improvements

The Rifkin Campus at 5200 project grew out of a strategic plan adopted by the congregation in 2012. Since that time, changes include:

  • Circular Drive in front of the building
  • New boys and girls restrooms (handicap accessible)
  • Improvements to existing restrooms (handicap accessible)
  • Welcoming the Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne Jewish Cemetery Association, and PFW Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and the Northeast Indiana Jewish Genealogy Society to join Congregation Achduth Vesholom and long-time resident Brightpoint Head Start
  • New Religious School office
  • New Room for Jewish community's Thoughtful Thursdays program
  • Madge Rothschild Resource Center and Rabbi Richard B. Safran Library
  • In progress: Jacob L. Goldman Museum
Resource Center Grand Opening

John Stein and Sally Trotter

Welcome To The Madge Rothschild Resource Center
The Madge Rothschild Resource Center is the centerpiece of the Temple's Rifkin Campus at 5200 project. Designed by Architect Richard Wismer, the 3,150-square-foot space includes the Rabbi Richard B. Safran Library and the Jacob L. Goldman Memorial Museum. 

The Resource Center focuses on the Jewish Experience in Northeast Indiana over the past two centuries, as well as Holocaust education, in an effort to strive for greater understanding among all faiths and people. The project includes an 1,100-square-foot inner courtyard with a proposed sculpture garden visible from the Resource Center.

Through the Madge Rothschild Resource Center and the Campus project, Achduth Vesholom looks forward to welcoming more members of the Fort Wayne community through its doors for educational, cultural, and other programs.  The Rifkin Campus was developed to bring together Jewish organizations in one location for greater visibility and opportunities to combine resources and energies.

The Resource Center includes flexible space to accommodate meetings and classes of different sizes up to 40 or 50 people, as well as the library and museum areas, a children's story pit, screens for presentations, and a coffee bar.

A beautiful new olive tree wall graphic enhances the hallway leading to the Resource Center, where leaves are available for purchase to honor special people or occasions. The hallway is enhanced with displays and photographs. A donor wall recognizes those who contributed to the Rifkin Campus at 5200 Capital Campaign.

The Resource Center already is being used for ongoing mah jongg play and video-conferencing with noted authors for programs and book clubs.

Historic Photos & Rifkin Campus History
The hallway to the Madge Rothschild Resource Center also includes a new photo collage and history of the Rifkin Campus at 5200.

The photos highlight the immigrants and later generations who helped develop the Jewish community, houses of worship, and downtown Jewish merchants. The text provides an overview of Jewish life in Northeast Indiana.  
200 Years of Jewish History in Northeast Indiana
A timeline featuring 200 years of Jewish history in Northeast Indiana was installed in April 2018 as the latest step in developing the Jacob Goldman Memorial Museum. Still to come are display cases for historical items.

The early years include the arrival of the first Jew in Fort Wayne in 1820 and the establishment of Indiana's first Jewish congregation - Achduth Vesholom - in 1848. The timeline traces the history of Fort Wayne's Jewish community, including its institutions, buildings, and activities. 

Olive Tree Display Honors Special People & Occasions

Purchasing a leaf on the olive tree near the entrance to the Madge Rothschild Resource center is the newest way to recognize an important person or significant occasion while also supporting the Temple. Leaves are $180 each and may be personalized with three or four lines to highlight a life-cycle event, anniversary, or special kindness. Proceeds benefit the Resource Center.

The olive tree was chosen as the symbol because it embodies peace, light, fruitfulness, longevity, beauty, and endurance. An olive branch, a well-known symbol of peace, was brought to Noah after the flood. During ancient times, olive oil was used to light the menorah in the Temple in Jerusalem to anoint the high priests. In modern times, many Jews still use olive oil to kindle the lights during Hanukkah. Please contact the Temple office at (260) 744-4245 for more information.

Resource Center Grand Opening