At the first Master Plan meeting in January, our congregation met with Newman architects to start discussing our vision for the future physical needs of Oak Park Temple. As this was the kickoff meeting for the architects to get to know us and what we think about our building, they asked us five questions which were then discussed in the meeting. The fifth question is one I’ve been thinking about since this meeting.

The question: Aside from the Torah, if the building were leveled (demolished), what would you most want to save?

Or in other words, what exactly is closest to your heart in this building? My first thought was actually in keeping with something that Rabbi Rick Jacobs said to a group of us about a month after Hurricane Sandy struck
the east coast: “Your congregation is more than your building”. I’d want to make sure all the PEOPLE were out of the building!


Beyond that – after knowing that the people and the Torahs were all safe? Well, for me, that would have to be all the wonderful items in our chapel that have been lovingly made for this congregation by incredible congregants.

First we have the Torah Table – made by Dr. Warren Green from wood he picked out himself at the lumberyard. Hand carved letters on the front proclaim, “Emet, Dayan,Shalom” – Truth, Justice, Peace.

And once the table was complete, Warren started envisioning the ark that would sit behind it. We teased him for many years about when the ark would be ready, but I doubt anyone was prepared for what a work of art it
would be. I saw an early version of the stained glass laid out in his garage, and yet I was still blown away when I saw it again in the final product. And I’m still blown away, each time I sit in the chapel, both by how beautiful
and how special it is. As someone who has attempted to cut glass before, I see that impossibly small sliver of glass near the opening. At different times I see water and music notes, tallit, moon and sun, twelve tribes. And always I see a work not only of beauty but of love.

And next we have the Torah inside this ark. This Torah was purchased by Cantor Yugend-Green and her family in memory of her parents, Jerome and Marcia Yugend. And covering this Torah is the mantle made by Alene
Goren-Taylor. The mantle picks up on the same colors as the stained glass, and evokes the image of a river, inspired by Psalm 98:

Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy.

And finally, our latest addition to this room is a tablecloth and a cover for the Torah stand, both made by Sue Blaine. The swirling of colors on the tablecloth represents the different colors of a day – from early sunrise to
bright mid day to sunset to darkness. The perfect complement to the colors in the ark and the stained glass windows in the room.

We are incredibly blessed to have such talent in our congregation and to have a room with items not only beautiful but also lovingly created just for us. This is a room that truly embodies love.

We are in the chapel for most Friday night services, Saturday mornings when there is not a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, and Sunday mornings at 9:00am for minyan. If you haven’t experienced a worship service in this room,
you’ve missed a wonderful part of Oak Park Temple! Come join us to marvel in the special atmosphere we have here.


PS: Click here if you would like to give us your input to the five questions asked at the Master Plan Meeting.

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