Last Friday I was at the Houses From Within tours in Jerusalem. Since the Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanah is this coming weekend I thought I’d start off with this gem of a building.The tour was given by the architect: Moti Ben Horin. Although the guidebook claims the Beit Hakerem Central Synagogue was built in 1974, he’s not sure but thinks it may have been earlier. In any case he was commissioned to design a main synagogue for Beit Hakerem – a garden neighbourhood of Jerusalem. Given the fact that there was no definitive context to relate to Moti chose to have the building stand out.
His concept was two domes with a stained glass wall link, where the women’s section would be on the same level as the men’s. A kind of gender equality – even though the smaller of the two domes is partitioned for women.
Later changes in society necessitated an upper gallery be built for women as well as the original main level for those with mobility problems.
I love the multiple curves here.
In the background you can see the women’s partition. Here Moti is standing at the pulpit explaining how inexpensive the building was to build. Nevertheless innovative design did not suffer.
Exposed skeleton to ascertain stability of the domes.
A cheap Swedish pulp byproduct that creates wonderful acoustics.
A stained glass window alternative that I think was made from plastic and light weight aluminum frame.
The abstract arch is a melange of earth and celestial colours: blues, yellows and greens that evoke spirituality to the space.
Notice how the Ark (containing the Torah scrolls) appears to float in front of the menorah.
Moti said everything was designed from scratch.
The chandeliers that appear to be inverted candles and still seem current.
The menorah theme carried through the building. Here shown as a railing around the pulpit.
The synagogue follows the lay of the land. Therefore beneath the main floor there are two other levels: a library and social hall and a children preschool on grade.
I was pleased to hear that all changes to the building were made in consultation with the architect, which Moti says is rare.
I really enjoyed being in such a majestic place but small enough to be modest in stature.
All images copyright Judy Weiss. All rights reserved.
House (of Prayer) Tour: Beit Hakerem