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Anshe Emet Synagogue / Chicago, Illinois

L’Dor v’ Dor, is both the religious and artistic foundation of the synagogues transformation. While preserving the existing Ark, stained glass and spatial volume, the design incorporates Judaica both literal and symbolic, dynamically changing the character of the prayer spaces.

Reorienting the Sanctuary to face East allows for discreet entries and a new interactive Bimah that is surrounded by congregants. The 613 strands of multiple dichroic triangles are magically in motion and reduce the scale of the space. A spiral of climbing Hebrew letters, quoting the prayer “lift up our eyes…”, is suspended over the Torah readers table. This artwork was created by Judaica Artists Presentations Gallery—Michael Berkowicz and Bonnie Srolovitz.

The existing Chapel is small, has an institutional character and is not accessible. This space will become a new, high tech, flexible Multi-Purpose room “H’Makor”, the Source.

The new 300 seat Chapel offers a much different feel than the Sanctuary with a dialogue between the West Elevation [relocating their existing 12 tribe stained glass windows] and the white, sculpturally contrasting East Wall (by Judaica Artists Presentations Gallery). The Ark is flanked by two familiar prayers that are fragmented Seiferot, needing to be reconstructed.

H’Derech ‘The Way’ reimagines the current circulation corridor as a meaningful entry experience. From the main entry, all synagogue functions are accentuated by a new circulation element that begins at a new covered entry and culminates at the Sanctuary doors. ‘The Way’, with seating alcoves and coffee bar, encourages socializing and schmoozing and parallels a biblically planted ceremonial court.

The new public face of the congregation is a ‘Western Wall’, a gently undulating sun shade that is inspired by the Torah being read on the Reader’s Table. Continuing with the Torah theme a medallion relief, mirroring the existing Ark doors is underscored with the ‘Ma Tovu’ prayer. As perceived from the public approach, this new façade expresses the welcoming nature of the congregation and it’s community presence in this rapidly changing neighborhood. Security, parking, pedestrian approach and covered pick-up/ drop-off are all incorporated in the new design.

The project will be built in phases.

Project Location

Location Map

    Key Information

  • Transformed 1920’s Classical Synagogue
  • Sanctuary rotated 180 degrees to face East
  • Fully accessible Sanctuary and Bimah
  • Flexible Sanctuary seating configurations
  • New larger Chapel/ Beit Midrash with enlightened character
  • New flexible Multi-Purpose spaces
  • Judaica as interpretive Art
  • Sophisticated Lighting and Acoustics
  • LEED Silver Sustainable Design
  • Stimulating, contemporary image
  • Clear interior circulation with ‘schmoozing’ spaces and Café
  • Focus on the Sanctuary Entry as the destination
  • Meaningful public presence
  • Improved parking, covered drop-off with a subtle secure, yet inviting Entry