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Temple Sinai History

Upon entering the sanctuary for the first time, the impression is one of being simultaneously both indoors and outside. The glass wall behind the bima and the glass ceiling welcome in the light of the outside world as well as the colors of nature, cyclically changing with the seasons, delighting the eye. 

This setting gives those within the sanctuary the sensation of being sheltered by the intimacy of the great tentlike walls while enjoying the impression of being among the foliage of the wooded world beyond. 

Built in 1967, Temple Sinai was designed by Rochester architect James Johnson, and represents what is perhaps Johnson's greatest work. He shaped the sanctuary to suggest a tent, symbolizing the nomadic theme in Jewish history. The sloping walls of concrete were actually poured on the site; the five sections of each side symbolizing the ten lost tribes that, under King Jeroboam, once made up the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Through the glass roof, we look upward and are reminded that God once promised Abraham that his descendants "would be as numerous as the stars in the sky." 

Semiannual outdoor services are held in the Joel Bloom Memorial Garden located by the front entrance of the Religious school.

Beyond the glass wall, two tablets can be seen soaring towards the sky. These often remind the worshipper of God's covenant with the Jewish people: the Ten Commandments. Inside, the eye is drawn to the uniqueness of the bima furniture. The Holy Ark, Aron HaKodesh, where the Torah scrolls (the five books of Moses) rest and the Rabbi's lectern were handcrafted by prominent sculptor Wendell Castle. The chairs were designed and carved by his students. The Eternal Light, Ner Tamid, signifying God's vigilance, traces its origins into Biblical times. 

Of the Torahs currently residing in our Aron Kodesh, one is particularly precious. This scroll was among 1,564 Torahs confiscated by the Nazis during the Holocaust and later released by the Czech government to British Jews who repaired and distributed them to Synagogues throughout the world. Temple Sinai received this Torah in 1980.

Tue, January 19 2021 6 Sh'vat 5781