Thursday, 18 September 2014 06:45 pm

Virtual Tour

Although more than two years have passed since the building that houses Congregation Beth Israel was rebuilt, many visitors will still remember our old building, for the generations of simchas, shabbats, and celebrations that echoed in the walls. It was not without sadness that we rebuilt our synagogue. We hope with time new memories will saturate this new building, too.

Our first building housed Congregation Beth Israel for eighty years. It was heimish despite the termites and the foundation that no longer met state codes for structural safety. The designers of the new building made every effort to maintain it's look and feel. Let us take you through it now.

On the right of the vestibule, you will find the administrative office and to the left the rabbi's study. Above the entry in the vestibule, we left a portion of our building intentionally unfinished as a zecher lechurban, a commemoration of the absence of our Temple in Jerusalem. Even as we dedicate our beautiful new building for communal gathering, study and prayer in Berkeley, we recall our collective history and the destruction of our Temple in Jerusalem nineteen hundred and thirty-four years ago.

One of the more striking features in the entryway is the wood carved Tzedakah Box, a replica of the one which stood in the entry to the wooden synagogue in Przedborz Poland. It evokes the memory of the lost spectacular handcrafted wooden Eastern European synagogues, which are no longer extant, and recommits us to the same values and traditions. With this remarkable connection to our historical past, we remind ourselves when entering of the concept and indeed mitzvah that before beginning our own spiritual pursuits we must first consider the physical wants of those in need. The funds deposited here will be used for needy individuals, as well as welfare and social action organizations.

Through the second set of doors you enter our Social Hall in which we hope to rejoice together on many joyous occasions, festive meals, lectures, and multimedia presentations. On the far wall opposite the Bancroft entrance you will find a beautiful washing station to be used for ritual washing in preparation for prayer or meals. Proceed down the corridor opposite the entrance to our beautifully crafted and well-designed elegant new kitchen, which is capable of functioning as a full catering kitchen for both dairy and meat events. Opposite the kitchen, we have a water fountain, and two fully handicap-accessible (as is the entire building) men's and women's bathrooms. If you continue down the corridor you will find a custodian closet and coat closet.

Turn back and to the left of the kitchen is the library / classroom / belt miArash, where our weekday minyan and classes will be meeting. The large doors provide for much natural light to radiate in and fill the room with warmth. It is a beautiful space that opens directly onto the patio and garden, for a seamless transition into our outdoor space for kiddushim.

Welcome to the heart of our new home, the Ada and Paul Paresky sanctuary, a couple who inspired the love of Judaism in their children and in whose honor our sanctuary is dedicated. The center segment of the entry wall is retractable to enable temporary expansion of the sanctuary for special services. When the partition is down it utilizes "sky wall' technology which is used in some of the finest symphony halls in the country. On either side of the sky wall are the two entry doors. Next to each you will find bookcases for sidurrim, chumashim and talitot.

The dramatic ceiling of cedar wood evokes the strength and aroma of the cedar; may it inspire us as a community to build our strength and shares our beauty with all who enter.

On the south wall we have remounted our Yahrzeit plaques from the original building, paying tribute to the continuity of our community. You can also see the window dedications from our original building, which have been preserved and remounted on the exterior to continue to recognize our courageous founders who helped to make the 1924 building possible.

Our mechitzah divides the sanctuary into two symmetrical halves, yet it is designed in such a way to maintain a sense of unified communal prayer with the Bimah in the center. Recalling the altar in the Temple, there are ramps leading up to the Bimah and Akron. The Akron on the east wall allows us to direct our hearts and minds in the direction of Jerusalem. It is set against windows based upon the Talmudic teaching that a Beit Knesset should not be totally closed off, but should contain windows open to the world. In our tradition communing with God is experienced through the integration of the world around us, and as such prayer must not cut us off from our surrounding community.

The Akron, which contains within it the Torah scrolls documenting our written law, is surrounded and supported by our Oral Tradition. Glass etchings of the first and last page of the Talmud flank the Akron on either side. We are thus reminded of the parallel traditions in Jewish law, which work in concert to present the vibrancy and richness of Jewish life. This design also reminds us of the centrality of Torah study, and that we are a community that values and glorifies this endeavor. Just as in the Akron in the Temple, our Akron is not built as part of the structure of the building but is a freestanding vessel. Our sages stress that the Torah, while eternal, must be transportable. Wherever we go, we must make a place for Torah in our lives. In recognition of the concept, the Akron is designed to evoke that sense of mobility. When we open the Akron our torah scrolls will have a clear glass backdrop through which we will be able to perceive the world beyond the sanctuary as it were through the lens of the Torah, and carry this vision into our lives.

Thank You: With profound gratitude to the visionary donors who enabled this project to become a reality. Below are their names in alphabetical order. We apologize in advance if there are any  unintended omissions.
Abrams Norman & Maurna
Albert George
Albert Paul
Alexander Ernie & Fran
Alper Noah & Hope
American Century Investments
Ames-Klein Clare
Anonymous (7)
Appelbaum Isaac & Hilda
Barany Ronald & Bella
Bardack Naomi
Becker Alex
Behrens Elza
Belin James
Bennett Michael & Patricia
Berezin Robert
Bergman Bradley & Grayce
Berkshire District medical Society
Berman Leonard & Catherine
Berman Philip & Blanche
Bernbaum Ed & Diane
Bickel Peter & Nancy
Biller Alan & Nancy Melton
Billet Jonathan
Bloom James & Iris
Bloom Judith
Bloom Tony & Kathleen
Blustein CS & RM
Boland Gary & Dale
Boyarin Daniel & Chava
Bradley Bertram & Bernice
Brass Esther
Brass Mark & Ernestine
Braun Howard & Betty
Brodsky Joel & Joan
Brookner Lance & Maxine
Brooks Irving & Yardena
Brunswick Joan
Buckheim Hilda
Buckner-Alper Jesse
Budd Elihu & Helen
Budnitz Bob & Barbara
Budnitz Mark & Paula
Burrell Avraham & Rahama
Cahn Michael z'l & Mitzi
Callenbach Ernest & Christine Leefeld
Candau Paul & Julie
Caplan Eli
Carey Marion
Carey Richard & Diane Caradonna
Carlson George & Lynda
Caro Eva
Chai Five Minyan
Chin Marilyn
Cohen andrew & Susan Lawrence
Cohen David
Cohen Manfred & Linda
Cohen Mark & Judith
Concus Celia
Congregation Beth Israel Sisterhood
Coplan Bennett & Antoinette
Corwin Debbie & Jan
Crane Yoel
Curran Donald
Curtis Sandra
Damrel Tommie
Darmoni Benjamin
David Birnbaum Foundation
Davidson Mildred
Davis Fern & Edna Cohen
Davis Ljuba
Davison Mickey
DeGroot Barbara
Derek Israel Fund
Dessau Ed
DeWitt Hugh & Susanne
Diamond Gertrude
Diamond Richard & Linda
Dolgopolski Serguei & Lilia
Doniger Adrienne
Dorfman Dan & Laurie Zoloth
Dorfman Jeffrey
Druck Arnold
Dubey James
Dubrovsky Michael & Michal
Duhl Lisa
Eden Foundation
Ehrlich David & Alice
Einwohner Alisa
Eisen Norman & Lindsay Kaplan
Emanuel Phyllis
Engel Marvin & Sara
Evnine Jeremy & Rachel
Falk Jane
Family Philanthropic Fund
Feeley Malcom & Rivka Amado
Feigleson Patrick
Feiner Michael & Jennifer Shy
Feiner Saul
Feld Chanan & Jody
Feldman Stuart & Donna Bletzinger
Feldman Yuval & Michal
Feldman Norman & Beverly
Felson Howard
Fendler Frank & Susan
Fenster Saul
Finkelstein Alan & Leslie Valas
Finkle Bernard
Fisher Stephen
Fonrobert Charlotte
Frank Shirley
Frank William & Janet
Frankel George
Fredman Marion & Steve
Freedman Bernard
Freeman Arthur & Doris Caro
Friedman David & Cheryl
Friedman Paul & Vicky
Frieze Michael & Linda
Fritz Barbara
Fuss Michael
Gardner Allen & Joan
Geller Phillip
Gendler Lillian
Gessow Miles & Lisa
Ginsburg Eva
Ginsburg Sam & Rose
Ginsburg Tom & Amber
Goldberg Marcy
Goldman Rosalyn
Golomb Nae
Gopin Rabbi Marc & Robyn
Gordon Bob & Linda
Gould David & Diana
Grant Preston & Anya
Greenberg Archie z'l & Shoshana
Greenberg Jack & Rose
Greenberg Rachelle
Greenberg Seth & Laura
Grinberg Jan & Hanna
Gruber Jonathon & Sharon Feuer
Gur-El Moshe
Haber Sam & Jan
Hacker Alexis
Hameiri Eliezer & Cassandra Adams
Handmacher Lesli
Hanig Hank & Carol
Harari Jacob & Rena
Hays Christopher
Hecht Michael & Caroline
Heinze andy & Mary
Hendon Ezra & Toby
Hindawi David & Hanna
Hircsh Alan & Vera Sandronsky
Hirsch Ruth
Hoffman Paul
Hoffnung Frances & Gladya Taub
Horowitz Daniel & Rachel Cousineau
Horowitz Samuel & Marsha
Horowitz Weiner Karen
Horowitz Yossi
Hull Emily
Ingerman Elena & Eugene
Joseph Valerie
Julius Caplan Fondation
Katz Gary & Ilene
Kaufman Pearl
Kaye Brian & Fran
Kayman Harvey & Susan
Khalouf Sara
Khazzoom Daniel & Mairin
Kipnis Issy & Patricia
Klass Michael & Jessica
Klibaner Alex & Rachel
Klompus andrea
Klug Lisa
Kobernick Jeffrey
Kornberg Morris & Herta
Laguerre Michel
Lane Ginger
Lang Brendel
Lawrence Sarah
Lawton Leora
Lehmann Vida
Lemons Lorena
Lent Karen
Lesser Michael & Deborah
LeVee Eugene & Ellen
Levi Haim & Tricia
Levi Sara
Levine David
Levine Edward & Elizabeth Kessel
Levine Lee
Levine Lester & Lorraine Wittman
Levinson Harry
Levitch Anita
Levy Hiram
Levy Jason & Alison Stamper Levy
Lew David & Harriet
Li Sophia
Lipman Laura & George Clark
Logan Carol
Lubran Barbara/Gervis-Lubran
Lyon Desmid
Lyons Irv & Charlotte
Lys Anette
Magid Julius
Maislen Helen
Maki Ken & Leslie Provence
Marcus Aaron & Leslie Becker
Marcus Gary & Lois
Marcus Selma
Markowitz Jonah
Markowitz Morton & Marilyn
Markowitz Sondra
Marshall Dorothy
Marshin Judith
Massarano Glenn & Judith
Mattson Robert & Diana
McGrath Richard
Mears David
Meltzer Ross & Faith
Michaeli Daphna
Miller Ed & Phyllis
Monas George
Morris Greg & Ruth
Moyer Ellen
Needleman Jackie
Nellis Noel & Penelope
Oshinski Suzanne
Packard David
Pajak Judge John
Panish Paul & Anna Belle
Paresky David & Linda
Paresky Joseph & Susan
Pascal Brenda
Paster Arnold
Pasternak Harry & Julie Kovitz
Peller Pearl
Penzel Kimberly
Pilkington John & Linda Levy
Piotrkowski Michael & Chanah
Platt Marshall & Elana Reinin
Platt Steve z'l & Barbara
Poise Maury & Francine
Polin Jonathan & Rachel Goldberg
Polk Elijah & Virginia
Powell Robert & Barbara
Preston Ralph & Marcia
Price Carol & Ethel
Rahat Oren & Renee Perelmutter
Ram Yanir & Susan Ellision
Ramon Dick
Rams Robert
Reiner Wolf & Hadassa
Reinstein Irving & Yocheved
Resnikoff Denise
Resnikoff Joel & Irene
Rheinheimber Johannes
Roby Erin
Roschwalb Jerold & Mila Becke
Rosen Mordecai & Rena
Rosenfield Paul & Rachel
Rosenthal Paula
Ross Marvin & Florence
Rubin Harry & Rhonda
Rubin Harry & Dorothy
Ryan Melissa
Sachs Nikki
Safran Robert & June
Sandel Ory
Sandel Peggy
Sandoval Diane
Schickman Mark & Susan
Schiller Fran
Schimmel Elihu & Edith
Schmier Kenneth
Schneider Helen
Schoenfeld Diane
Schorr Rachel
Schorsch Jonathan & Gail
Schultz Albert & Janet
Schultz Ethel
Schweig Muni & Tania
Seder Eric & Rachel
Seeley John
Shaked Nitzhia
Shalom Zvi
Shapell David & Fela
Shapell Rochelle/Shoresh Foundation
Shilo Barbara
Shippee Warner & Elizabeth
Shivel Carol
Shulman Joe & Helen
Sibony Henry & Violette
Sidell Caleb & Michelle Lifshitz
Silverblatt Steven & Rita Kohl
Silverman Rabbi Yair & Ilana Fodiman
Simkin Barbara
Simon Hiram
Simon Stacey
Singer Miriam
Sinoway Nathan
Smith Jeremy & Iris Greenberg
Smith Rich & Irene
Sokolov Jennifer
Sokolov Raymond & Johanna
Solomon Marianna
Solomon Steven & andrea
Somerville Susan
Sopher Debra
Sopher Joan
Sorani Avraham & Shalva
Spieler David
Spruch Philippe & Isabelle
Stamper Juliet
Stamper Robert & Naomi
Stein Israel & Susan Stearman
Stein Jeff & Doreet
Stern Jonathan & Mariam
Sudikoff David & Rikki
Sudikoff Irving & Barbara Stone
Susman Barry
Susswein Esther
Susswein Pola
Sweet Justin & Sheba
Tapper JR & Helene
Tauber Fred/Laszlo N. Tauber Foundation
The Key Foundation
Titus Alan & Meg Goldman
Valas Elly
Van Dohren Bonnie
Vas Elior & Michal
Veltri Stephen & Naomi
Wachs Martin & Helen
Weinberger Leor
Weiss Stephen & Melody
Werthan Moshe & Libby
Wezelman Barbara
White Joyce
Wilson David & Miriam
Wilson David & Myra
Wincour Willie z'l
Winer Marvin & Maxine
Winnick Sheldon & Ellen
Winter Adam & Anastasia Schipani
Wirshup David & Susan
Wishnow Gail
Wittman David
Wittman Ellen
Wittman Friedner & Ruth
Wolf Joseph & Lois
Wolf Leonard & Marion
Wolfe Sheldon & Nancy
Wolfinger Barbara
Wolk Rochelle
Woodson Helen
Woodson Mary
Worthington Samuel & Helen
Wulf Stanley & Linda Press
Zedeck Sheldon & Marti
Ziskind Eileen
Zusman Sidney & Sandra

1630 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94703   |   Directions   |   Congregation Office: (510) 843-5246   |