Temple Beth Zion -Table of Contents

Temple Beth Zion
Exterior / 
West Window / Interior



Chief architect:

Max Abramovitz, of Harrison and Abramovitz (Website Jan. 2018)

Windows, Ten Commandment tablets, Menorah artist:

Ben Shahn

Windows artist:

Shahn's painting adapted by Benoit Gilsoul (BEN wah JEEL soul)

Windows fabricator:

Willet Studios

Temple status:

Included in the Linwood Preservation District

Mr. & Mrs. E. Crosby Willet / Max Abramovitz / ? / Henry Lee Willet
in 1967. attending the Dedication Ceremonies.
Photo courtesy of E. Crosby Willet (Willet Studios)

Abramovitz began writing about synagogue design well in advance of his first free-standing synagogue commission (Brandeis University’s Jewish chapel in 1955).  In the May 1948 issue of the American Institute of Architects Bulletin, Abramovitz writes: “…since biblical days synagogues have been built in every land in every known style…But the challenge remains – to create a religious structure with an honest architectural expression free of false stylistic trends.” Nearly 20 years later, Abramovitz was able to achieve these aspirations at Temple Beth Zion.    - Sarah Sher, Abramovitz’s Temple Beth Zion "Cupcake" Synagogue  DOCOMOMO US (online Sept. 2016)

E. Crosby Willet (Willet Studios) in 2009, attending the July 2009 American Glass Guild Conference in Buffalo, standing in front of the East window


805 Delaware replaced the fire-destroyed 599 Delaware Ave. Temple Beth Zion in 1967  ...  Being constructed in the round, the building does not contain a cornerstone. Instead, the original cornerstone from the building at 599 Delaware is placed in the rear wall of the sanctuary ark. To it has been added the phrase "Rebuilt 1966."  ...  The Ben-Shahn-designed west window over the main entrance represents the 150th Psalm.

Curved cladding sheets of Alabama limestone (note lines) attached to the steel-reinforced concrete walls  ...  See construction photos

Main entrance facing Delaware ...
"The pillars at the Delaware entrance were poured in place, reinforced concrete pillars. Journeyman carpenters were hired to build the formwork, which was allowed to create a wood grained, paneled texture on the concrete surface. Alabama limestone veneer was applied to the exterior surface of the exterior walls. Each slab weighs at least a ton and are anchored to the concrete walls." - M. McClellan, DOMOMOMO, May 13, 2014

Exterior detail of the west window  ...  Interior photos of the window below:

West window

The west stained glass window, created by Ben Shahn, represents the 150th (last) Psalm which calls upon all to praise God.:
Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord.
Praise ye the Lord.
Cf., Westminster Presbyterian Church's "Praise" window - also by Willet Studios

West window detail

West window detail

West window detail

West window detail


West window is behind the organ  ...  Note main entrance on first floor  ...  The Sanctuary seats 600 people downstairs and 400 in the balcony  ...   Acoustic material forms the backing of the walnut-stained strips on the balcony walls and behind the altar  ...  The light fixtures have speakers in the center for the sound system and mercury vapor bulbs around them.

The 48 rank, 4,000 pipe organ features trumpets from the Lafayette Theater  organ. The organ was built by the Casavant Freres Company of St. Hyacinth, Quebec (website online in 2016)   ...  Two details below:

Detail #1

Detail #2

The concrete walls are bathed in a diffused natural light resulting from the skylights ringing the perimeter of the building  ... Five views of the wall and skylights below:

View #1

View #2

View #3

View #4

View #5 ...
The walls are bathed in a diffused natural light resulting from the skylights ringing the perimeter of the building  ...  To create a feeling of antiquity, Architect Max Abramovitz had the walls bush-hammered to remove 1/4 inch of the surface giving an antique, mottled effect  ...  The holes in the walls were left from the original forms and add to the Sanctuary's acoustic excellence, as well as design.

Special thanks to Executive Director Mark Criden for his cooperation
Wendee G. Lorbeer
for her encouragement
Temple Beth Zion HOME PAGE

Photos and their arrangement 2003 Chuck LaChiusa
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