Members of the Big Island's Jewish community are making an effort to build its first synagogue.
Non-profit organization Ahava 'Aina started a fundraising effort to bring a community center to the east side of the island. Its founder, Rabbi Rachel Short, says $5,000 has so far been raised, with a total goal of $700,000.
Kona Beth Shalom, a Jewish congregation on the west side, is a two-hour drive for those who live on the east side.
"The whole reason," said Rabbi Short, "is just because of the community. It's been so spread out, and because of this, we've been kind of void of any sort of Jewish cultural activity or community connection."
Rabbi Short hopes building a synagogue in Hilo could change this, and would like to see a location established within the next two to five years. She says the project already has the support of State Senator Russell Ruderman and Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth.