Yesod Le’ Atid – Foundation for the Future Committee Updates

Foundation for the Future


The Sinai Renovation Committee (SRC) has been meeting with the architects and general contractor on a biweekly basis, with additional meetings on topics like audio-visual components, heating and cooling, and construction
strategy. The architect has completed a first set of drawings, which were shared with the general contractor for cost estimation, so that the Board can make final decisions about the scope of the work. Those decisions will turn into construction drawings in September, the final phase which are then sent to the city for approval and permits. At this point, we’re still targeting to start construction at the end of October.

We learned that construction in town has slowed significantly – so a small silver lining to the pandemic is that we hope to see more companies bidding on the trades construction work (plumbing, electrical, mechanical) that will not be done by the general contractor. At this point, anything that keeps costs down means that more can be achieved. Some final decisions about finishes and furniture are still being made, and the SRC is conscious that each decision has cost impacts on the final project. The good news has been a surprising amount of consensus among the Design Team!

Sanford Hess, Chair


You know from Sanford’s update that the renovation is moving closer and closer.

As we build our Foundation for the Future that includes ceilings, doors, windows, furniture and more, our shul has been building an impressive foundation for the future in our outstanding young people. After I participated in the services with our two most recent b’nai mitzvah, I knew I had to recognize them and their peers and their teachers. I just increased my pledge to the Yesod L’Atid campaign.

Perhaps you can find your inspiration for increasing your pledge.

Shanah tovah,

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


Your Sinai Renovation Committee (SRC) has been busy this summer! Through biweekly meetings in June and July, the SRC worked with the architects to revise the designs. In some cases, this included large decisions, like the proposal to renovate the current gift shop and library space to create a more flexible and welcoming area. Other decisions were smaller, such as the types of fixtures for the renovated bathrooms?

A bit more about the bathrooms: the current “older” bathrooms (closest to the south entrance… not the ones by the Davis Chapel)) cannot be made accessible in their current form – they’re too narrow. The plan is to take over part of the classroom next to them (the Art classroom) and use the extra space to make both bathrooms large enough to meet guidelines. This will then require the Art classroom to move down the same hallway, taking over a classroom that is currently used for storage (the one that is most North-West on the hallway with the older classrooms).

In the next phase, we are working with the architects and contractor to get Detailed Designs – and working with the Board to make final decisions about the scope of the renovation. The next stages will get even more precise, with final drawings and the start of the permitting process.

Sanford Hess, Chair


I read a newspaper column that asked people what the first thing was that they want to do when the pandemic is over. I thought about my own response. Yes, I want to travel to see family. But what I most long for is a first Friday that starts with helping in the kitchen, has everyone gathered for Friday night services, and then we move to the pods for Shabbat dinner together.

And the icing on all this is that our renovation will begin in October. We are ever closer to having a renovated sanctuary and pods.

Please consider a gift, or an additional gift, to help bring us back together in renewed spaces. Your gift is critically important as the Board and the Renovation Committee make final choices about what we can or can’t do based on funds we have on hand or pledged.

Stay safe and healthy,Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


Last month we reported that we were interviewing general contractors for our project, and now we’re happy to announce that the Board, following our recommendation, decided to hire Felmley-Dickerson as the general contractor (GC) for our project. Felmley- Dickerson is a firm headquartered in Bloomington, IL with an office in Champaign – and the president (who made their pitch) is a Champaign resident. The firm has experience in town (Busey Executive Center in downtown Champaign, the UIUC Law Library) and with religious institutions (several churches in Bloomington). They also were the firm who did the Sinai renovation in the 1990s that created the Davis Chapel and the North classroom wing and the Temple office – although the management has changed entirely since those days.

Our process is to hire the GC while we’re still in the design process, which will now move into a higher gear. This way the contractor is a participant in the planning and design, a process that can avoid issues by keeping the designs more realistic and avoiding late cost overruns. The next steps in the process are a review of the contract with the GC by our attorneys and going back through the designs at a finer level of detail. This is the second of three sets of designs – and the third set will be the final ones that are submitted to the City for approval, so a lot of important decisions will be made soon!

Sanford Hess, Chair


Out of the 17 General Contractors who received our invitation to bid on our renovation project, we received 4 proposals. (This is a reflection of how much construction activity is occurring in our area – our project is competing against many larger ones!) For those 4 companies, we are conducting meetings in March to discuss their approach – and we hope to have chosen a contractor by the time you see this newsletter.

Other aspects of the project are slowly moving along. The Design Team of the SRC met to review our Judaica and review which pieces we might want to have on display after the renovation. Their great idea was to focus on configurable hangings, so that we can rotate and change pieces from our existing collection – and any new ones that Sinai adds in the future.

Meanwhile, we are also reaching out to Acoustic and Audio/Visual experts, who will advise us during the design phase – and throughout the construction.

Sanford Hess, Chair


As you know from reports from Sanford Hess and the Renovation Committee, the Yesod Le’atid, Foundation for the Future, project is moving forward with construction scheduled to begin in October. Since planning began, our vision for spaces that are more beautiful, functional, accessible, and secure has expanded. As we all understand, our concerns for security and accessibility have grown.

We announced the goal for our fund-raising when we began planning in October 2018. We set a goal of $800,000. Through your generosity, we have pledges of $1million. We are thankful for this commitment. Given the critical needs for a secure and accessible building, the board has approved setting our sights higher and increasing our goal to $1.25 million.

We have reached a critical moment in the campaign. The board needs to know how much money is actually pledged in order to make the tough decisions on what we can afford and what will have to wait. I urge you to make a pledge if you have not yet done so, and to consider if you can increase your pledge.

You can find a pledge form on the website: If you have questions, please feel free to contact me. My email is

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


At the end of January, our architects were here for two days. One of those days was spent taking measurements of every inch of the space, which are used to make the next round of designs (the “Schematic Designs”) more accurate and detailed. The other day was spent meeting with engineering consultants: a structural engineer and a mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) engineer.

With the structural engineer we investigated and discussed options for the building. For example, they measured the steel beams in the pods that hold up the sliding doors to see how strong they are, which tells us what kind of options we have for new sliding doors. They also investigated how parts of the building were constructed (like the lobby, which was modified over time) and the status of the library roof. There will be a report delivered from their work.

The MEP engineer will deliver a similar report, but it will be focused on heating and cooling the space. Part of the renovation will be to improve the air flow in the Sanctuary and Pods, but we’re hoping to keep the existing heat pumps that are the expensive part of the system. Their report will help us understand if that’s possible, and some recommendations on how to do it.

Another activity in February was the arrival of bids by General Contractors. We are using a collaborative design process, so we’re going to choose a Contractor early in the process and include them in decision-making during the designs. The goal is to avoid significant changes late in the process, and to provide a smooth transition from design into construction.

Sanford Hess, Chair


In December, we received bids from consultants on different aspects of the building. After a careful review, the project is moving forward with contracts for Structural Engineering and MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) design. Both are important for the design phase; Structural Engineers will review the status of the roof over the Library and Levin Lounge, while the MEP consultants will assist with the heating/cooling system and the bathroom renovations.

In the next phase of design, consultants will provide input on Acoustics, Audio/Visual, Lighting, and the IT that connects these all together. We are still gathering bids from those consultants and hope to have companies selected by the end of February. A similar processing is occurring for the General Contractor. Sixteen local contractors were contacted and 6 expressed interest in our project. We hope to have several bids to choose from, although we might be limited by the building surge going on in the C-U area. The General Contractor is going to be brought into the process early, during the design phase, to be part of the team that is making decisions during the phase when it’s easy to make changes . . . and not after all the blueprints are complete.

2020 is going to be an exciting year for the Renovation Project, and the goal remains to start construction in late October. The Sinai Renovation Committee will do everything in our power to make sure that we’re ready.

Sanford Hess, Chair


The renovation project is in a slowly moving phase while our architects solicit bids from contractors for our project. We are following the best practice of an “Integrated Design” approach—this means that we find our contractors first, (before the next phase of designs are created) so that the contractor is part of the design process. This approach allows the contractor to shape the design for cost considerations as we go, instead of coming in after the designs are done and changing everything. So extra effort now to line up our contractors will pay dividends later when we can quickly move from design into the construction phase, which is still planned to begin in late October 2020.

The current phase is slow because getting bids takes time. First, our architects communicate the type of work we need, then the contractors decide what their cost would be for the work. This can require some back-and- forth discussions. Once the bids are in place, we can choose the best option. Although this will usually be the lowest price, there are some factors that could cause us to choose a different bid—such as experience and quality. We are also finding that the C-U construction boom is working against us, because companies are busy with lots of other work. Some contractors are choosing not to bid on our work at all, so more effort is required to contact additional groups.

The Board of Trustees is playing its important role by reviewing and approving the appropriate agreements. Meanwhile, the Renovation Committee will continue to push the process along and review the contractor bids.

Sanford Hess, Chair


During the months of November and December, the SRC is beginning the next design phase of the renovation project. First, the SRC is planning to sign a contract with the same architecture firm for continuing services, and then we’ll work with the architects to review bids from specialists in structural, mechanical, acoustic, lighting and audio-visual consultants. There will also be a process to accept and review proposals from contractors. All of this work is to assemble the team for the project, while we’re still making decisions about the design, so that everyone is in agreement early, and we can avoid the situation where we have to scramble to undo decisions later.

Sanford Hess, Chair


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


Dear Friends,

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 ( 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.

L’Shanah Tovah,

Jake Sosnoff
President, Board of Trustees
Sinai Temple


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 Click on Yesod Le’Atid to find the form and more information on the renovation. Please email me at 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.