For more than 25 years, our congregation operated out of a variety of locations in the Village. Finally, after a two-year search for a home of our own, we discovered a dramatic loft space in a historic building, built in 1929. The first Ralph’s Supermarket in Westwood, the building has gone through various incarnations throughout the years, most recently being purchased by TOPA Properties.
Skillfully designed by noted architects Abramanson/Teiger, the space has been transformed from a dusty storage unit into a magnificent sanctuary with soaring 25-foot ceilings, a dramatic Aron Kodesh to house our Torah, intimate spaces in which to learn, and a spacious room for our youth program -- complemented throughout with warm woods and fabrics that reflect the welcoming, embracing nature of our congregation.
Thanks to the tremendous financial support and commitment of our own members as well as many others in the community, we inaugurated our new space at our 2009 High Holiday services and dedicated it at a Chanukah Habayit on December 14. We are grateful for the support of our generous donors, our architect and contractor, Zuma Construction, TOPA Properites, and many others who helped make our dream a reality.
Part of the design concept came from the following legend:
In the first chapter of Second Maccabees, one of our earliest sources for the story of Hanukkah, the writer mentions a tradition called "The Feast of the Fire." According to the legend, when the Babylonians destroyed the first Beit Hamikdash, some kohanim took fire from the altar and buried it – they hid it, in a secret cistern, which is a pit coated with lime for storing rain water, somewhere near the Temple Mount. After seventy years, the Persians took over and allowed the Jews to return. The Jewish leader Nechemiah instructed the kohanim to find and dig up this fire, so they could use it on the new altar in the rebuilt Beit Hamikdash. What they found, instead of the fire, was ice. Nechemiah told the kohanim to bring it anyway, and place it on the wood for the sacrifice and the offering itself. And as the sun emerged from the clouds, the ice melted and a fire burst forth from the altar and consumed the offering. And apparently, this first fire in the renewed Temple caused the altar itself to shine with a bright light, even brighter than the fire of another sacrifice.