The Main Sanctuary
Most services are held in the main sanctuary. The sanctuary is a high, open-feeling octagonal structure, with supporting columns of Jerusalem stone and large diagonal roof beams between each of the sections. The seating is normally arranged in the Sephardic pattern, with the Hazzan and other chanters in the midst of the U-shaped congregational seating, all facing the Ark. The combination of high structural openness and seating intimacy significantly enhances the religious experience. The front portion of the sanctuary has beautiful Helen Webber tapestries with biblical themes.
The Aron HaKodesh
“...And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them…” Shemot (Exodus) 25:8
The Aron HaKodesh
Our sanctuary was remodeled in 2009. Great care was taken in the design of the new Aron HaKodesh (the Holy Ark) in the new sanctuary. The book of Exodus (Shemot) dictates the construction of the mishkan (the portable Temple carried through the Sinai wilderness). The instructions are very specific, down to the materials to be employed and the colors to be incorporated. These biblical instructions have been used as the reference for our design.
Columns of Jerusalem stone flank the doors to the Holy Ark. This alludes to the importance of Jerusalem as the spiritual center of our people.
The Torah specifies that the Ark be built of acacia wood, which would have been available locally in that region. However, that variety does not grow in this area, so we have selected wood species from, and with a strong connection to, our locale—Oak and California Walnut.
The laminated glass doors are made of cast glass and infused with a hue of amethyst (a shade of purple). This reflects the argamon (purple) noted in the Torah. The top of the Ark is crowned with a panel of a deeper-hued purple glass; along with the lavender and purple hues in the glass and fabric lining symbolizes malkhayut, the royalty of God.
The pasuk (the biblical phrase) that is quoted at the top of this page is etched in purple on a white glass panel atop the Ark. The calligraphy was developed by Rabbi Emeritus Gordon Freeman. His artwork was chosen to adorn the Aron HaKodesh in honor of his 38 years as the spiritual leader of B’nai Shalom as well as his leadership and guidance in the design of the sanctuary.
The ner tamid (the eternal flame), which hangs in front of the Ark, denotes the imagery of the flame that burned in front of the Ark in ancient times. It represents God’s constant presence in our community and our lives.