At Temple Beth Elohim we gather as a community in learning, in prayer and in caring. At the outset of the construction project for our building, which was completed in 2010, we wanted to construct a building that would do more than just support the growing TBE community in its pursuit of Torah - learning, Avodah - worship and Gemilut Hasadim - acts of loving kindness; we wanted to design a building that would engender and prompt each member of our community to be the best person he/she could be, to lead rich Jewish lives, and to create sacred bonds of community – Kehilah Kedosha.
To envision, design and build a 42,000 square foot synagogue comprising some 3000+ individuals of all ages and aesthetic and spiritual sensibilities who come to worship and study with a myriad of personal memories of what a synagogue should look like is a daunting task. A community of individuals came together to design and build our Makom on secular time and on a secular budget. Our HaBonim committee, chaired by Tom Bloch, developed our vision and our well-articulated needs working with temple members, clergy and staff.
Architects, Bill Rawn, Sam Lasky and Mark Scot
Project Manager, Judy Cannon
Builder, Richard White & Sons
TBE Owner's Representative, John Weigel
Project Superintendent, Steve Tocci
Landscape Design, Joe Geller and Deb Michener
Several key parts of the building were carefully designed to communicate our values and to capture the gestalt of our community.
Atrium Suspended Sculpture: Jubilee by Kaman + Erland, Philadelphia, PA
Suspended at the heart of our building is an inspirational sculpture named Jubilee. Encapsulating the principal of hiddur mitzvah, which means sacred beautification as an expression of hope in the future, the artists designed Jubilee to enliven our community in the performance of its daily mitzvot. Jubilee is based on the almond blossom, which holds great meaning in Judaism.
The almond blossom, which appears many times in our scriptures, reminds us of our beginnings, our history and our founding families.
Wrought from cast bronze, copper and hand-dyed natural fibers and dramatically suspended from the Atrium's upper story, Jubilee is an effusive expression of all that goes on in our Jewish lives. As a symbol of hope, it aims to elicit the best from all of us, by encouraging us to pay attention, to start anew, to create, to care for and to engage.
Behind Jubilee, inscribed on the wall, one finds a quotation from the Mishna: "The world stands on three things: on Torah (learning), on Avodah (worship), on Gemilut Hasadim (acts of loving kindness). " (Pirke Avot 1:2) Worship, learning and social action are the three pillars on which the Temple Beth Elohim community rests.
The Ark by Peter Diepenbrock, Jamestown, Rhode Island
Like the Torah scrolls that lie within, the TBE Ark is a sacred object with many stories to tell. As a focal pointin our sanctuary, it is meant to be accessible to all, enabling each person who enters a personal interpretation relevant to his or her time, place and life cycle. As a sacred object, the ark offers the opportunity to explore both the holy – the struggle and solace we feel in our relationship with God – and the deep lessons, and comfort, of our extraordinary history.
The Yahrzeit Memorial by Peter Diepenbrock, Jamestown, Rhode Island
The Yahrzeit Memorial, located on the rear wall of the Sanctuary, aims to provide a high level of dignity and individuality to each memorial, while also offering relatives of the deceased an engaging, tactile experience when observing a yahrzeit.
Donor Display Wall by Gordon Huether, Napa, California
Designed to reflect and honor the passion, dedication, beauty and diversity of our community, this artwork incorporates both old and new materials in an engaging and poignant fashion.
Mezuzot Inpired by Gary Rosenthal
Following the Jewish principle of hiddur mitzvah (that ritual items used to perform mitzvot be beautiful), the TBE community joined together in October 2010 to create the more than 150 mezuzot needed for our new makom. Each of the doors in our building proudly displays one of these mezuzot. On each door in the school wing, there are two – placed so that both adults and children can reach them as they enter the room.
Ner Tamid, Eternal Light by Ros and Harris Barron
The Eternal Light was one of the first two pieces acquired by Temple Beth Elohim with the Temple's beginnings on Bethel Road. After the 1981-82 expansion, the Eternal Light was placed above the new Ark. The Eternal Light now resides in the Beit Midrash.
The Ten Commandment Panels by Ros and Harris Barron
The Ten Commandment panels were one of the first two pieces acquired by Temple Beth Elohim with the Temple's beginnings on Bethel Road. The panels flanked the Ark. After the 1981-82 expansion, the colorful Ten Commandment panels were moved into the education wing. These panels now adorn the upstairs worship space.
Moses Statue by David Aronson
Outside of, and looking into, the Atrium is a cast-bronze sculpture of Moses. The statue was donated to Temple Beth Elohim with the building's first expansion in 1981-82.
Bronze Menorah by Judith Morton
In our art collection is a bronze menorah that was donated to Temple Beth Elohim with the building's first expansion in 1981-82. The menorah stood on the bimah in the sanctuary before our move into our new Makom.
Rakovnick Torah, Torah #832
Nearly fourty-five years ago during the summer of 1973, a sacred memorial Torah scroll was dedicated at Temple Beth Elohim. What made this Torah scroll so special? The scroll, originally from Czechoslovakia, had been rescued from the Nazis. Today this sacred scroll remains on permanent loan at our temple. Learn more.