As residents of Key West, Fla., Rabbi Yaakov and Chanie Zucker have seen their share of hurricanes and bear a healthy respect for them. But while they – like the thousands of others on the Florida Keys – kept their eyes to the skies last week as Tropical Storm Fay dumped inches of rain on the archipelago, they noted that it was a hurricane three years ago that ushered in a process of Divine Providence that left their Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Center of the Florida Keys with a brand new building.

In 2005, Hurricane Wilma plowed through the Keys as the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. Many people decided to relocate in its wake, leaving one building in particular – which was originally intended to house a church – uncompleted for lack of necessity. The Zuckers, with the help of a grant from the philanthropic Tabacinic Family of Bal Harbour, Fla., and local communal support, purchased the 5,000-square-foot structure in May.

Yaakov Zucker, who has been operating for the past several years from a mobile home in an isolated area of Key West, said that the amazing part of the transaction is that the new building only requires the installation of plumbing and electricity to be fully usable.

“It’s a dream come true,” said the rabbi, who plans to open the new synagogue in time for Rosh Hashanah, which begins the night of Sept. 29 this year.

“It’s exactly what we need,” added Chanie Zucker. “And it’s even facing Jerusalem.”

The old Chabad House, whose location and appearance were less than desirable, could accommodate 50 people at most. However, with about 1,000 permanent community members, a steady tourist population and thrice-daily services, the new synagogue’s facilities will be able to hold between 300 and 400 people at any one time.

Keys resident Tom Buchler, who develops Jewish software, said that he’s looking forward to the new center.

“I’m excited to be able to [pray] in a nice new building that will be a home to many people,” he said. “It’s also located within the town,” making the Shabbat walk more convenient. “So we’re going to find a lot of people who wanted to [observe Shabbat] and will be able to do so now. It’s inspiring and invigorating for the community.”

Stuart Weisfeld, also of the Keys, expressed a similar sentiment.

“It will definitely enrich the community and attract more people,” he said. “I’ve [prayed] at places all over the world, and it’s not the place that’s important, but what you’re doing. But a nice place does give you a better ability to do what you’re doing.”