In 2009 the board of Beit Chaverim Synagogue asked Edward Jacobs to assist them with both design and strategy in the building of a new Synagogue complex in Westport CN. Currently the project is in the last stages of review in the local Planning and Zoning committee. The community is hopeful that all hurdles impeding final approval have been properly dealt with which will allow the project to get underway in the coming year.
85 Post Rd, Westport CN.
Jacobs presented to the board a 5 part process and procedures plan in order to properly frame the building campaign. This included:
Development of a comprehensive plan for the BCS facility devised to work within the current zoning realities and expected future potential of the property and to develop a rational strategy to insure its ultimate realization.
Create a design in concert and collaboration with the professional team within predefined budgetary parameters as quantified by the board, and guided by professional and realistic standards.
Create a fund-raising strategy and plan based on potential dedications and spaces, and produce graphic material illustrating those elements for fund-raising purposes.
Work with the board in all manner of presentation and explanation within the community to forward the cause of the synagogue and its fund-raising needs.
Work with the board in directing the local professional team in fulfilling the defined mandates in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.
The design of the structure is based on two concentric walls of stone emerging from the ground and gradually growing to a peak height of about 21 feet. The natural surroundings of the property are naturally stunning and we wanted the building to maintain a low profile both figuratively and literally. The facing of walls, both interior and exterior are to be similar of the natural stone of the area.
The most stunning visual feature of the sanctuary is the 21 foot high glass curtain wall, overlooking the beautiful natural surroundings. So special is this environment that we decided to base the entire conceptual design of the synagogue upon it.
The Aron Kodesh/Ark is literally suspended from the ceiling, behind a stationary glass Parochet/Curtain composed of multitudinous glass pieces recalling the fires of creation. During the day, this apparition will glisten with natural light, and in thee evening hours will be illuminated from within.
Accessing the Torah Scrolls will entail lowering the Ark by way of a decorative rope allowing access to the Torah Scrolls within. Unlike the norm, in this case it is the Parochet that remains stationary, and the Ark itself that is mobile. That said, no motorization will be employed in this design, all will be achieved by perfectly counter-weighted mechanisms.
In the Talmud Bavli, Tractate Baba Metzia 59b a fascinating parable is related entitled “Tanur Shel Achnai”. In the parable, a heated debate takes place between the sages and Rabbi Eliezer. Rabbi Eliezer displays his ability to call upon heaven to perform various miracles to prove his point but the sages are unmoved. Finally a Heavenly Voice is sounded telling the sages that Rabbi Eliezer is correct in his ruling- to which Rabbi Joshua responded: “It is not in Heaven!” That is to say that the Torah must be adjudicated by the proper authorities on human terms, and the majority must be respected.
As human beings and as Jews, we have a responsibility to recognize that while the Torah was given to us from a Heavenly source, it is our behavior in this world which expresses its divine reality.