Monday, March 9, 2015

Transforming Kehilla Comunity Synagogue Sanctuary

I hope you will come celebrate and see the completed sanctuary on March 21st. There will be a service from 10-12 followed by a reception for the artists, designers, and committee members who worked on the project from 1:00-2:30. 1300 Grand Avenue Piedmont, CA 94610

Over the course of five years the interior of the Kehilla Synagogue on Grand Ave. has been transformed. It was an interesting process, akin to walking a labyrinth, sometimes the goal seemed just in sight only to become very far away again. We had many meetings. The process of making aesthetic decisions in groups was fascinating and I often felt like everyone else could think much faster than I could. People had so many opinions about what they wanted in the space and I often felt uncertain. Although I can be a very verbal person it took me a long time to put into words what I thought would work.  In the end we came up with a design that works on many levels. The interior designer, Reni Aniela, who designed the paint scheme described it as "an embrace".
At the High Holidays I felt that embrace when I participated in Havdalah, the ending of Shabbat and of Yom Kippur. I was standing on the bima, holding a glowing braided candle in my hands, surrounded by singing congregants and the strands and images I'd created alone in my studio surrounding all of us. It's an extraordinary honor and privilege to have one's art serve a communities spiritual needs.

Another exciting part of the process was getting to meet and work with the other artists. Nechama Shaina Langer created the lettering on the back balcony. The phrase, selected by the spiritual leadership committee reads in Hebrew The great shofar is sounded and a still, small voice is heard.” The words are painted beautifully. Each letter breathes and the colors harmonize with the other elements of the design.

Ed Kirshner, created a lamp with xenon gas inside it for the ner tamid (eternal flame). He worked with the committee to design the shape, an amphora which was blown by glass artist, Pamina Traylor The lamp was created from breath and its shape connects practical vessels for carrying liquids to something that carries light and spirit. The deep blue color blurs into the background and creates a visual field one can sink into. In an other twist of the creative process the original color was to be lighter but Ed realized this color would be more evocative and powerful. Again the artists' vision moved past what can be articulated verbally.

I look forward to celebrating with the community on March 21st.

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