Sacred Space

The Molish Sanctuary was designed by the noted architect Vincent G. Kling and completed in 1972. Our sanctuary is a dramatic room, structured with a soaring ceiling, continuing red brick walls and a warm gold carpeting which is meant to represent the dessert sand of Sinai. Two main features of the Sanctuary are the “Ner Tamid” – the Eternal Light and our award winning Ark designed by the late Hungarian architect, Mark Zubar. The Ark is fashioned entirely of brass and stained glass. The brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds, fashioned in an upward, angled design seem to burn like flames against the brick and glass wall behind it. The Ark contains elevated rows of 12 Stars of David, reminiscent of the Twelve Tribes if Israel. At the back, interspersed among the pieces of bold stained glass, are 10 small circles of opaque glass representing the Ten Commandments. To the front of the bimah, you can clearly see that the Eternal Light hangs at the lowest point of the sanctuary ceiling. Again made of glass and brass, the eternal light glimmers, suggesting of a multitude of colors. The light is represented by glass, cut into flame-like shapes that irregularly jut out of the brass casement. The flames of the Eternal Light, the Star of David is etched in black into the concrete ceiling. Other stars glow from this initial one, building the image of a pulsating symbol of the Jewish faith. The sanctuary is a beautiful place for peaceful contemplation and is the heart of Beth Am. It is accessible to all.

The Temple Beth Torah Chapel is an integral part of The Evelyn and Ronald A. Krancer Center for Jewish Life, which was dedicated in 2008. It provides flexible space for prayer and special activities such as Tots-N-Torah, adult and family education programs, family celebrations and Torah yoga. The original Aron Ha Kodesh  – holy ark – from Temple Beth Torah’s building on Welsh Road – provides the centerpiece of the room. The Ner Tamid  – eternal light – was designed by New York artist David Klass. Above the ark, the words  Da lifnei mi atah omed  —  Know Before Whom You Stand  — provide a constant reminder that we stand before God when we pray, and recall the scene described in Exodus when Moses appeared before God at the burning bush.  The ark is flanked by a pair of original Temple Beth Torah seven-branched menorahs, signifying the seven days of the week. Celebrations that took place at Temple Beth Torah are recalled with leaves on the Etz Chayim – Tree of Life.   In addition, the original panels that appeared on Beth Am’s chuppah – wedding canopy –  needle pointed by volunteers from Sisterhood, are framed and mounted, quotig biblical love poetry: Ani L’dodi, v’ Dodi li – “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” (Song of Songs)


The Klein Chapel on the lower level, is easily accessible from the main entrance of the building facing Old York Road. The intimate space of the Klein Chapel features warm brick and soft lighting. The adjacent lobby area looks out into a beautiful inner courtyard, enjoyed throughout the changing seasons. Colorful tapestries provide magnificent interpretation of prominent bible themes, and were created by the celebrated Israeli artist Bracha Lavee. The Klein Chapel was dedicated to honor the memory of Adolf and Jeane Klein in 1976. 

The Saltzman Family Biblical Garden “In the creation of the world, the Holy One began with the act of planting, as it says: And God planted a garden in Eden (Genesis 2:8), and so too when you enter the Land of Israel, you shall first plant (Leviticus 19:23). Midrash Leviticus Rabbah 25:3

        The entrance of the synagogue’s Evelyn and Ronald A. Krancer Center for Jewish Life is graced by The Saltzman Family 

Biblical Garden. It includes a variety of plants named in the Torah, as native to the Land of Israel. The garden was designed and installed by award-winning landscape designers Burke Brothers, led by congregant Kevin Burke.

        It contains a number of interesting architectural features: a water element, a series of teak benches, a pergola/grape arbor, a Magen David (Star of David) and a stone pulpit/podium. 

Water Feature…God said to Moses, “Assemble the people that I may give them water.” Then Israel sang this song:  Spring up, O well – sing to it.  (Numbers 21:16-17).

        Water is an important symbol in Judaism—it is the source of life; the medium of birth, death, and immortality; and the reservoir of wisdom. During their 40-year journey through the desert, the Israelites were sustained by the water from Miriam’s well. Additionally, our Torah is often referred to as “mayim hayyim,” living waters.”

        Our garden’s water feature is surrounded by a variety of colorful annual plants and attracts an equal variety of beautiful birds. It welcomes Beth Am congregants and their guests while highlighting the importance of water in our biblical narrative.

Four teak benches grace our garden and provide a place for visitors to rest and enjoy the beauty of their surroundings. Each bench is engraved with the individual names of the Saltzman family donors. The number four is significant as it has always been associated with the earth and its rhythms: four corners, four seasons, four directions, four winds and four elements. In the Torah, the Israelites were commanded to gather four species of plants as part of their celebration of Sukkot: lulav (palm), myrtle, willow, and the etrog.     

The pergola/grape arbor reminds us that grapes constitute a vital part of Israel’s economy, both in ancient and modern times. As the third of the seven species representing the Land of Israel, grapes are traditionally eaten on the holiday of Tu B’Shevat, which celebrates the reawakening of agricultural life after the winter dormancy. The giant grape cluster requiring two men to lift it (Numbers 13:23) is a popular motif of Israel’s productivity.

The Star of David (Magen David) has a long and varied history, but today it is the most popular and universally recognized symbol of the Jewish People. In The Star of Redemption (1921), Franz Rosenzweig framed his philosophy of Judaism around the image of the Jewish Star, composed of two conceptual triads, which together form the basis of Jewish belief: Creation, Revelation, and Redemption; God, Torah and Israel.

The stone pulpit (podium) placed near the Magen David creates an area where intimate life cycle events or prayer services can be conducted. On clear summer Friday evenings, the congregation gathers in the garden for Kiddush and motzi.

        Three generations of the Saltzman family came together in October, 2009 to dedicate the biblical garden.

        The garden inspired the creation of an adjacent mosaic mural, made of thousands of individual glass and ceramic pieces. The mosaic took hundreds of hours of painstaking work by 11 volunteers (congregants and community members); it was designed by our congregant Suzanne Borow Rubin. Sandi Young co-chaired this labor-intensive, labor of love. Representing seven species named in the Torah, the design includes a seven-branched tree that represents a menorah. Dates, olives, grapes, figs and pomegranates are surrounded by wheat and barley. Tones of blue, the image of a lake, stresses the importance of water in the continuity of life.

        Above the tree is a dove, symbolic of the peace for which we yearn. A dragonfly and butterflies enjoy the garden. A three-dimensional spider with legs crafted of bent nails reminds us of Rabbi Harold B. Waintrup z’l whose love of baseball led to his nickname of “Spider Waintrup.” Small flowers are made from shards of china, contributed by congregants. Stones at the base of the wall were gathered by Rabbi Robert Leib at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, providing another connection to the State of Israel. The mosaic was unveiled to the congregation prior to Selichot services in September, 2012. 

If you would like to read more about the plants in the Saltzman Family Biblical Garden, click here.                                                   

The Holocaust Memorial – Helping to keep the promise to Zachor – “Remember” – our Holocaust Memorial honors the memory of family, members of our congregants who perished in the Shoah – “the Holocaust.” Located in the inner courtyard, the memorial was dedicated on November 9, 2010, the 72nd anniversary of Kristallnacht – “The Night of Broken Glass.” It provides a quiet, sheltered place for contemplation and private prayer.

        Designed by David Klass, a New York based artist and metallurgist, the memorial is a fitting tribute to our martyred brethren who perished in the Nazi Holocaust. The names and locations of concentration camps and killing fields remind us of the wide-spread reach throughout Europe of the Nazis. The Hebrew Yizkor – “Remember” – appears in a vertical formation of blood-red stained glass letters surrounded by ominous hues of dark blue/grey.  Six symbolic lights, made of glass, represent the six million who perished in the Shoah; they are secured to the parallel metal that symbolized the railroad tracks and barbed wire of the death camps.

        The text of the famous poem, The Butterfly, is part of the memorial. Its author, Pavel Friedmann, was born in Prague on January 7, 1921. He was deported to Terezin on April 26, 1942 and later to Auschwitz, where he died on September 29, 1944 at the age of 23. Metallic butterflies “fly” from the memorial toward the adjacent butterfly garden.

        Our congregants, Jerry Brill, together with his son Robert, have dedicated the memorial in loving memory of their beloved wife and mother, Myrna Brill z”l.

The Butterfly 
The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing

 It went away I’m sure because it wished to
                           kiss the world good-bye.                           

 against a white stone…
Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ‘way up high.

For seven weeks I’ve lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live in here, in the ghetto.