We hope that you had a chance to see the designs at the Temple during the Holidays, or on the Temple’s website. Many comments were received, and we thank everyone for their input. The general sense of the congregation was support for the changes, with some excellent reminders about accessibility for chairs, stairs, and ramps. After some initial feedback about the screens in the picture of the sanctuary, another picture was displayed showing how the screens can be covered (and not be visible) when they’re not used. We hope this addresses the concerns about the screens, as we know that some services may choose not to use them.
In the next phase of the project, more detailed plans will be created and construction discussions will begin. These are starting in November, and we are still targeting a start date for the construction of October 2020 (after the holidays), so there is much to be done!
Sanford Hess, Chair
In September, the Sinai Renovation Committee and the Board met with Landau-Zinder, the renovation architects for their final Concept Designs. In addition to the plan for the Sanctuary and Pods, the architects presented four configurations for the Temple entrance, library, and Levin Lounge. The four options varied in price based on the amount of changes. The Board had a good discussion of the options, and chose a prioritization of changes with the idea that as more donations are raised the Temple can add additional elements to the work. However, the board reiterated the primary goal of changes to the Sanctuary and Pods is for accessibility, including the lighting and acoustics.
Pictures of the proposed work will be displayed during the High Holidays, although it is important to emphasize that final colors and finishes are not selected yet, those will ultimately be chosen based on a combination of factors, including budget and acoustic properties. There will be a “comment” box to provide your input on the conceptual design both at the Temple and virtually on the website.
Sanford Hess, Chair
I write to update you on Sinai Temple’s Yesold LeAtid renovation project. Over the last year the Renovation Committee, chaired by Sanford Hess, and the board have met numerous times with the Lindau-Zinder architects. During that process, the board agreed to include a master plan into the project that will help guide our decisions now, as well as into the future.
The architects have presented a range of designs, each representing different levels of investment. The most extensive plan would require raising the roof and floor of the current library, creating a new entrance, and expanding the Levin Lounge.
As you are aware, the primary goal of the renovation is to make the temple welcoming and accessible to everyone. Based on extensive multigenerational input, the board has made decisions based on these priorities:
- Improving physical, audio, and visual accessibility
- Creating spaces that allow the congregation to continue to build communities
- Creating an environment that welcomes members and visitors
- Replacing furniture and furnishings that have outlived their useful lives
Given these priorities, the board has expanded the scope of the original renovation focus to include making the bathrooms closest to the sanctuary fully accessible, increasing the usability of the Levin Lounge as a social/mingling space, and increasing the security and energy efficiency of the entrance.
During the High Holidays, we will display the conceptual design of the renovation visually; this will highlight a more accessible bimah, increased natural light, flexible seating, and many other exciting features. Other important aspects of the renovation, such as an improved sound system, are not easily illustrated. As you look at these designs, please keep in mind that no decisions about style or color have been made. I encourage you to fill out the “comment” box that we will provide to get your input on the conceptual design.
Ultimately, the scope of this once-in-a-generation renovation depends on the financial support we all provide. Meeting or exceeding our fundraising goals will require the entire congregation’s full participation. The more money we raise, the more fully we can realize our visions for the future.
If you have not yet made a pledge to the campaign, or if you are in a position to increase your initial pledge and/or gift, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Wynne Korr, chair of the development committee, at your earliest convenience. You can also click this link and make your pledge online.
I feel fortunate to be part of such a generous community and look forward to celebrating the sweetness of a new year with each of you.
President, Board of Trustees
Over the summer, your Sinai Renovations Committee continued to meet with our architects and review iterations of the designs. Because the architects were asked to look at a Master Plan for Sinai, there will be different options in the design that include changes going beyond the original work of the Sanctuary, Pods, Levin Lounge and entrance lobby. Now the Board will consider other changes such as a more secure front entrance vestibule, updates to the restrooms and an overhaul of the Library space. How much of this work will occur in the current project is an important decision that awaits the Board.
Focusing on the Sanctuary, the changes proposed are not radical; they are a series of small adjustments to improve lighting, accessibility, sound and safety. Drawings will be available during the High Holidays to show the design. When you see them, please keep in mind that a later design phase will finalize decisions about materials, colors and finishes—the ones in the pictures are a proposed scheme, but could change due to budget or later decisions. The next phase of the work will produce detailed drawings by the architects that will be used by builders to plan the work. In addition to clarifying the price, those drawings (and builders’ availability) will help us determine the timeframe for construction. So, it’s an interesting and busy period of work for the SRC in the next few months.
Sanford Hess, Chair
Over the summer, the SRC met several times with the architects to go over different plans and options for Sinai–mostly via conference calls. The overall design changes for the Sanctuary and Pods are fairly well along, although the SRC is still considering different ways of configuring the dividing walls (for the Pods) and the ceiling (in the Sanctuary). While the SRC has not made final recommendations on finishes, colors, etc., there are some general ideas about how things will look that will be included in the forthcoming renderings. Final recommendations on materials will be based on several factors such as: visual appeal, cost and acoustics.
Since March, when the scope was expanded to include a Master Plan, the SRC has also considered different configurations for the entrance lobby with a focus on changing the front entrance to be both more welcoming and more secure. Based on the plans and the estimated costs that the architects will prepare, the board will be deciding which entrance changes will take place during the Sanctuary renovation, and what will occur at a later date. One decision was made for us by ADA regulations: changing the restrooms that are near the South entrance will be mandatory when we make the accessibility changes to the Sanctuary. So, we know that needs to be part of the first phase of work.
Over the next few months, we hope to have renderings that we can share with the congregation to show the planned changes. As the design moves forward, and the costs are estimated, we expect to have a better idea of timelines for construction.
Sanford Hess, Chair
The SRC continued to meet with our Architects through April and May. Many ideas and inputs were provided, including some ideas from Focus Groups of members that resonated with everyone. One of the most important areas of discussions has been security improvements to the entrances. Since the Board expanded the Architect’s work to include a Master Plan of the whole building, entrances on both the South (by the Library) and West (by the offices) are being reviewed. In the Sanctuary, the SRC considered many configurations for the Bimah and seating, as well as ways to make better use of the space in the Pods. The SRC also looked at options for the ceiling and lighting, trying to find solutions that achieved some of our goals for better visibility, sound, and air circulation without giving up too much ceiling height. There will be more discussions, and meetings over the Summer, and we hope to complete Concept Designs in the next few months.
Sanford Hess, Chair
Thank you to those who have already pledged or given funds to the Yesod Le’Atid campaign for renovations to realize our vision of a welcoming, inclusive Jewish community.
We have developed a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that you can find on the Sinai Temple web page.
Wynne Korr, Development Committee Chair
Since the first visit by the architects in March, the SRC has gone through the input provided by the congregation and passed on that feedback for the architects to consider. Based on the Board’s decision in March to expand the work to include a Master Plan, the SRC has also had some discussions about long-term goals to make Sinai safer and more accessible throughout the building. By the time you read this text in the May bulletin, the SRC will have hosted another visit by the architects at the end of April. In between the visits, the SRC is also meeting with the architects by phone on conference calls, which keeps the discussion going and does not incur any extra costs. (The design work is a fixed-price project, although travel is an extra expense.) Additional trips by the architects are planned for May and July.
Sanford Hess, Chair
Sinai’s architects arrived for the weekend of March 1–3, and had the opportunity to take in the breadth of our congregation. Starting with the First Friday service and dinner, continuing through Saturday’s ETM and kiddush, and with a tremendous event on Saturday night to celebrate the start of the project. Michael Landau and Joshua Zinder, the principals of Landau/Zinder spoke about synagogue design in general, and their approach. Surveys were collected from congregants who wanted to complete one. The survey is also available through the Sinai web site.
The evening also featured good news about the fundraising efforts so far—please see the Development Committee update for more. On Sunday, March 3, the architects had additional meetings with the Renovation Committee (SRC), Security Committee, and the Board of Trustees. More discussions and visits will follow.
Sanford Hess, Chair
As Sanford noted, our weekend with the architects was inspiring and a reminder of the challenges ahead as we seek to make our space match our vision of a welcoming, inclusive Jewish community. We are thankful to the early investors in building our foundation for the future, Yesod Le’Atid. We all need to think about how we can step up and support this initiative. You can find a pledge form conveniently enclosed in the bulletin or online at sinaitemplecu.org. Click on Yesod Le’Atid to find the form and more information on the renovation. Please email me at email@example.com if you have any questions.
Wynne Korr, Development Committee Chair
The Renovation Committee has been working with the Architects to plan a weekend full of events for March 1-3. The architects (Michael Landau and Josh Zinder) like to start their design process by attending services – so they’ll be attending the First Friday dinner/service on March 1 and the Egalitarian Traditional Minyan on March 2. Then we have the campaign kick-off on Saturday night. At that event, the architects will make a presentation to talk about their design process, and generally about synagogue design. Finally, there will be meetings on Sunday, March 2, with the Renovation Committee, Safety Committee, and the Board of Trustees. This weekend is only the first step of the design process, which will continue through the Spring. Landau|Zinder will be back other times for additional meetings.
Much has changed for the Sinai Renovation Committee (SRC) since the last newsletter update! The in-town architect who was working with us decided that they weren’t interested in continuing our project, so our plans for a December kick- off were dropped.
Within a few weeks in December and January, we negotiated and signed an agreement with Landau- Zinder for an initial design. (The contract does not go further, although we hope to continue the work with them after that.)
The design effort will kick off on March 1, when their two principals (Michael Landau and Josh Zinder) attend First Friday services. This is the beginning of a busy weekend with them, during which they will also attend the Egalitarian Traditional Minyan, meet with the Board and SRC, and give a presentation to interested members of the congregation about synagogue design, which is their specialty.
The month of December was an eventful one for the Sinai Renovation Committee (SRC). The local architecture firm that was selected to design the changes had a staff departure and decided that they have too many work projects pending, so they have chosen not to continue working on Sinai’s renovation.
This change has brought about an opportunity to return to another architect option that the SRC like a lot: Landau|Zinder—a firm out of New Jersey who specialize in synagogue architecture, with many examples of synagogue renovation and construction in their portfolio. Despite the change in plans, we hope that the schedule will be impacted by only a few months. We are already underway planning for their first visit, which will begin an intense period of design that will last through the Spring of 2019. During this design phase there will be opportunities for everyone to offer their input.
In the meantime, the SRC has continued to clarify our design priorities and prepare ourselves for the process ahead. While we are disappointed at the time we’ve lost getting started, we are excited to work with Landau|Zinder and look forward to a productive 2019.
The Sinai Renovation Committee (SRC) was appointed by the Board of Trustees to work with Ratio (our architects) to plan and oversee the improvements to the Sanctuary, pods, Levin Lounge, and front entrance. During November, the Board and SRC met with Ratio to plan the schedule, which plans for construction starting after Simchat Torah next fall—so October 23, 2019 or later.
Congregational visioning meetings are in December, but the date is not confirmed at this time. Please stay tuned for e-mails and announcements from the bimah.
For this new phase of the renovation, the SRC added members. Our members are: Carol Belber, Laura Bleill, Alan Cook, Jody Cook, Melanie Dankowicz, Shira Epstein, Natalie Frankenberg, Sanford Hess, Larry Kanfer, Jessica Kopolow, Wynne Korr, Rob Ore, Julia Rietz, Susan Schomer, Art Siegel, Jake Sosnoff, and Rosalind Weinberg.
For the planning phase, the SRC is splitting into two subcommittees: Design and Electronics. The earlier stages of the design will focus on where things go, which will be refined later into how they look. Our Architects will produce three sets of designs, each progressively more detailed. Meanwhile we must plan the sound, projection, and mechanical systems.
2019 will be busy for the SRC, with many meetings and hard decisions. Members of the SRC have shown tremendous dedication for all of 2018, and these last few months will be the hardest of all. Look for more updates soon.