Joyce & Jerome Mack Sanctuary
Three hundred, fifty-eight seats, none more than 50 feet from the Bima—this was the vision for our new Sanctuary. Wider and less deep than the Emerson Avenue facility, it is also twice as large, with capacity for 1,200, including the Social Hall. An 80-ton piece of steel runs across the width of the room (three cranes were needed to lift it), allowing for a column-free, intimate view of the Wasserman Bima from any angle. No detail was overlooked in creating the perfect sanctuary experience. For example, the Rabbi and Cantor podiums and Stolberg Choir Loft, while conveyed from Emerson Avenue, were reversed in position when the architect smartly realized the High Holiday sun, when filtered through glass windows, would be too hot on the Choir's heavy robes. Courtyards on either side of the Sanctuary heighten an awareness of a holy space within the outside world, through presence of light and space, and the introduction of nature. Color from native landscaping is especially vivid in the fall, when most people visit the Synagogue.
Wasserman Ark and Bimah
Bathed in natural light, rich with fabrics and welcoming from every angle, the Wasserman Ark is uniquely awe-inspiring. Like traditional structures, it faces East. But unlike its traditional counterparts, our Ark is free-standing, allowing congregants and guests to walk entirely around it. Its pageantry is heightened by its curtain, accompanying wall hangings and Torah mantles, all created by nationally recognized Jewish artist, Jeanette Kuvin Oren, and made of gold-embroidered fabric. The 25-foot, hand-made oval curtain hangs high above the Wasserman Ark and opens from the ceiling by remote switch. As Moses was with the Burning Bush, it is possible to be completely immersed in this sacred space, for dramatic and spiritual effect. The Ark curtain's flame and saying ('Y'hi or', Let there be light) reflects the many ways light is used in the Bible and Jewish tradition. From creation and God's appearance before Moses in the burning bush, to the Ner Tamid and Shabbat candles, light is a consistent symbol of the Divine. The wall hangings on either side of the Ark reflect core Jewish values of compassion and love: the left, 'Torat chayim v'ahavat chesed.' (Torah guides us to a life of caring); the right, 'Sim shalom ba'olam' (Grant universal peace). Each of the six Torah mantle patterns represents six significant Biblical events: Creation, Jacob's Dream, the Burning Bush, Miriam Leading the Israelites, the Still Small Voice and the Giving of the 10 Commandments at Sinai.