After the members of this congregation had migrated to the suburbs, they desired a space to accommodate them in their new locale. Since this was only the second house of worship that Blumberg had ever designed, the family packed up and headed to Europe, where they scoured the Continent from Israel to Paris to Vienna, researching synagogue design.

Beth Israel interior view
Interior stained glass lightboxes bring light to the synagogue’s interior

Drawing on their research, they developed a structure that combined aesthetics and utility. The small number of windows reflects the European concern with safety, while the interior stained glass lightboxes bring more light to the synagogue’s interior.

The structure’s most unique feature is it’s moveable bimah (stage). With a simple crank, the bimah can be moved to afford everyone an unobstructed view. This innovation was planned and constructed with the help of a Rochester-based stagecrafting company and fully assembled before being shipped to Northfield.

Exterior sketch

The synagogue’s original pipe organ  was reconditioned and hidden behind an acoustically transparent, stone colored cloth. Combined with oak battens duplicating the stone pattern of the Western Wall of the ancient Temple of Solomon, and forms a background foil for the stained glass Bima. This magnificent structure combines the very best of European sensibility, religious tradition and American ingenuity.

The one of initial cardboard mockups showing moveable bimah