Yesod Le’ Atid – Foundation for the Future Committee Updates

Foundation for the Future


This will be the last monthly newsletter from the Sinai Renovation Committee, as we will celebrate the grand opening on May 20th. We hope to see you there!

During April the final pieces came together: the millwork (cabinets) on the east wall, the bimah furniture, and (of course) the ark. As some of these final pieces were put in place, the final audio/visual work could take place, such as the installation of the TVs on the east wall and the wired connections to the bimah.

You can imagine how exciting it is for the members of the SRC to see the final stages of this project come together. It has been more than four years since the Committee was formed and began pulling together ideas and contacting architects. The process has had its ups and downs, but as we near its completion everyone is thrilled with the final product. We hope that the result of this effort is a modern, comfortable, and accessible space that honors the past of Sinai and “wows” first time visitors. Thank you to everyone who supported the project financially and (for the SRC members) with donations of their time. And finally a massive THANK YOU to Art Siegel for his energy, patience, and effort to manage this project throughout the construction phase.

Sanford Hess, Chair

Do you believe it? After a long renovation process, on May 20th we will celebrate our grand opening!

Much thanks for the support you have given to the Yesod Le’Atid campaign. You still have time to make another contribution to help build the Foundation for the Future.

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


The update for this month is much the same as last month! We’re waiting for the arrival of the millwork (cabinets) and the ark. Hopefully, the millwork will be delivered during March and the ark in April, but there are no promises… like so much else on the project, we’re at the mercy of supply chains and the pace of work by others. Still, we remain optimistic that all will be in place in time for the ceremony later this Spring.

There has been some progress recently. The camera that will be used to broadcast events was put in place, although some additional wiring is still needed to permit someone to run Zoom meetings from the bimah. (And that work is underway.) And although not directly part of the renovation, work is beginning to replace some of the exit doors with safer ones in accordance with the Homeland Security grant that was received for safety improvements.

Sanford Hess, Chair

My thanks to all whose contributions to the Yesod Le’atid campaign made this possible. You can still contribute to help us finish strong. To make a donation go to or use PayPal scanning the QR code below.

QR Code for Renovation via PayPal

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


The renovation is entering its final phases, but as with so much else in the construction everything is taking longer than we wish. By now, many of you have seen the sanctuary in person, and others on photos. It looks mostly done, and you may not see many changes over the past few weeks, but there are small steps of progress. For example, the bimah’s steps were stained and some of the final wiring was put in place. However, these are minor changes and not noticeable unless you know where to look.

Other work is happening off-site, like the creation of the wood cabinets (“millwork”) that will go along the east wall and the fabrication of the ark. These larger components will come to Sinai as pieces that will be assembled on site. The timelines for these are still changing, as final details get worked out and the materials become available.

A final area of progress is the formal process of inspections with the City. These are occurring for individual components (mechanical, electrical) before a final review occurs.

In short, there’s progress occurring and everyone on the SRC and its sub-committees are looking forward to a grand opening celebration this Spring!

Sanford Hess, Chair

As we plan to celebrate our return to our renewed spaces, please consider contributing to help us finish strong.

Do you have the PayPal app on your phone? You can scan this QR code and your donation will go directly to the Renovation account.

QR Code for Renovation via PayPal

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


The renovation hit an important milestone on January 21st and 22nd with the first services held in the renovated sanctuary! The combination of lights and sunshine made for a beautiful “Tu BishBat Mitzvah” for Orli Cook, and the pods received their first use as a multi-purpose space, also.

There’s still work to be done, however – mostly on the bimah. Cabinets will be installed, flooring must be finished, and of course the ark and bimah furniture are all still under construction. Some of the electronics are also not fully installed, like the spotlights and cameras.

During the month of February, efforts will focus on closing out the work and also on preparing for final inspections, both from the City and from the architects.

It’s exciting to be back in our beloved sanctuary again with new seating, bright lights, new sound system and gorgeous Jerusalem stone east wall. We now look forward to completing the final phases over the next few months!

The Return to the Temple Committee is hard at work arranging a Grand Opening with dignitaries, food, speeches and acknowledgements. We are still waiting on the timing of the bimah completion to have a specific date. Stay tuned!

Sanford Hess, Chair

Do you have the PayPal app on your phone? You can scan this QR code and your donation will go directly to the Renovation account.

QR Code for Renovation via PayPal

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


The renovation’s final stages are going quickly, a pleasant change after months of slow movement! The new operable partitions are hung, and much of the electrical wiring fixtures are now in place. Chairs arrived and (thanks to several Sinai volunteers!) moved into temporary storage locations around the temple. Painting should be completed and new tackable wall boards installed by the time you read this.

The most significant remaining work to be done is completion of the bima and laying of the new floor (carpet in the sanctuary and luxury vinyl tile in the pods). The bima has been enlarged from the original design by extending it an additional foot, and electrical and AV connections were upgraded to accommodate the new location of the lectern. Also, under construction now is the millwork (wood) cabinets that go along the lower part of the east wall. The most recent design now includes a lighted niche, to be used as the Torah holder during services.

The ark and bima furniture are also moving forward. Designs were finalized, and the fabrication will hopefully be completed early in 2022. The Ark won’t be in place for the first use of the sanctuary, but we hope it won’t be long after. Some of the final steps to come include construction inspections by the City and by the architects. City inspections are required to receive permits to use the space, and the architect’s inspection will find a “punch list” of minor repairs to finalize. Also, planning is now underway for several events to commemorate our new scared spaces, including a ribbon cutting, a lecture by the Ark designer, and a dinner-dance!

Sanford Hess, Chair


As you can see from Sanford’s update, our Renovation is moving rapidly toward completion. We are able now to think of the ways we will celebrate together the return to our sacred, and social, spaces.

Sanford notes that there will be a ‘punch list’ – all the final fixes that need to happen. I know from experience, those will continue for awhile.

We also have a fundraising punch list. So many of you have made meaningful contributions. We need you now to give more so we can finish strong and without debt.

Please go online, make a gift or additional pledge.

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


Renovation construction continues to move ahead. Most of the painting has been completed, the sanctuary ceiling is now in place, lights are hung in the pods, and the bema construction is underway. At this phase, our attention is shifting to the audio-visual aspects, including both video and sound. Construction of the millwork (wood cabinets) for the East wall is underway, which will include a lovely recess for holding the Torah during services. The operable partitions are scheduled to arrive in the middle of December and we anticipate the floor installation to begin in December as well. We anticipate the sanctuary and pods to be available by the end of December or early January. Meanwhile, construction plans are being finalized for the Ark, as well as the designs for the new lectern and torah reading table which should be complete by late winter.

On behalf of the SRC, I would also like to note with sorrow the passing of Rosalind Weinberg. Rosalind was an original member of the SRC and contributed very significantly to the design of the sanctuary improvements, attending many meetings despite her health challenges. It is a fitting tribute to Rosalind that the Ark doors she designed were installed in the Levin Lounge, and that the Torah covers she created will be even more visible with the new Ark. May her memory be a blessing.

Sanford Hess, Chair


What? You forgot to give to the Yesod Le’atid renovation on Giving Tuesday? Please consider an end of year donation. Despite our frugality, it has cost more than planned to complete the renovation. (Have you heard of pandemic-related inflation?) Also, be looking ahead to news of ways we will celebrate our return to the building in spring.

Happy Hanukkah! Just as the oil lasted eight days, your contribution will help beautify our space for years to come.

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


As we head into October, the activity inside the sanctuary is gaining speed. (See the end of this article for ways to see pictures!) The most noticeable change recently are the windows that are installed in the north and south walls of the sanctuary, allowing so much more natural light. Along with the Jerusalem stone on the east wall, it really brightens up the sanctuary!

Meanwhile, the ceiling of the sanctuary is being created in stages. The first step was hanging the main structure of the ceiling, which will support the lights and paneling. And in the pods, the most noticeable change was the reinforcement of the supporting beams for the new sliding doors. (Unlike the dark brown beams in the past, the updated ones have also been painted white to blend in.) Ductwork in the pods has been a major focus recently, with the goal of getting good air flow while making the ducts as inconspicuous as possible.

During October, we expect for the ceiling work to continue, the HVAC duct work to be completed, the installation of new pendant lights to be completed in the pods, and the construction of the bimah to start.

If you would like to see additional pictures from the renovation, archives of past slideshows and videos can be found at Often before services on Friday nights you can get a brief tour of the space. Please, ask Art Siegel for a tour.

Sanford Hess, Chair


Have you looked at pictures of the progress of the renovation? Maybe you peaked in the building and saw the progress through the construction dust?

It’s not too late to contribute to, or increase your contribution to, the Yesod LeAtid campaign. Your contributions will help make the renovation as complete and beautiful as possible.

I love services on the Sudman patio, but I can’t wait to be back in the new sanctuary with its light and Jerusalem stone and accessible bimah – and the joy of being with everyone.

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


Throughout the summer, the focus of the renovation energies has been on the stone wall. From the beginning of the design process, the Renovation Committee loved the idea of a stone facade on the East wall, both to lighten up the room and to evoke the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

During the design process (which occurred during the height of the pandemic in 2020), it appeared that the proposed cost of the stone would put it out of our reach. At the time, the committee “settled” for a tile version that would look like stone but was actually ceramic tile.

As the saying goes, however, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”.

Supply chain issues and other factors at the beginning of the construction led to the tile not being as effective a solution as we had hoped. The planned order of construction became complicated because the ceiling and bimah couldn’t be built until the wall was done!

In July, however, a new option suddenly appeared in Sammy the stone seller. Sammy had Jerusalem stone (real stone!) and – more importantly – he had it available – and for not too much more than the ceramic tile would have cost. Where things looked bleak in early July, we now had a plan and Sammy who was ready to drive out almost immediately.

By mid-August, Sammy was in town and his team made fast work of the wall – and it’s beautiful. Art Siegel has shared pictures in the weekly bulletin if you want to see. As important, lots of phases of the project can now proceed – like the bimah, ceiling, and flooring. Many aspects are underway, and the construction can now pick up speed compared to the slower pace while we waited early in the summer.

It’s an exciting time for the renovation, and we look forward to talking more about the progress during the High Holy Days in September.

Sanford Hess, Chair


During July, renovation work continued on underlying infrastructure – most of which will be invisible when the work is done! For example, the electricians have spent time installing wiring for electrical and Audio-Visual purposes. This lays the groundwork for the lighting, cameras, microphones, and TVs in the final product.

Similarly, the structural reinforcement of the steel beams was completed, which was an important step to prepare for the new sliding doors between the pods and the sanctuary. Also in the pods – the heating and cooling ducts were installed. This was a key recent development, because the ductwork was held up while decisions were made about the location and look of the ducts. (The final answer combined the goals to maximize efficiency, lower costs, and look as unobtrusive as possible.)

The most exciting development during July was a resolution to change suppliers for the stone on the east wall, behind the Ark. Supply chain issues caused a huge backup with the original plans for a ceramic material. Faced with lengthening timelines (because other work depended on the wall covering being in place first), our architects suggested a different material – a true Jerusalem stone – from a supplier they worked with on another recent synagogue project. Most importantly, the supplier has the stone in stock, and Sinai entered into an agreement with them to provide and install the stone. Although this new approach is slightly more expensive, it’s not a significant increase and the true stone will look more beautiful AND be available much faster.

Sanford Hess, Chair


We won’t be back in the sanctuary when we hoped, but we can see our Foundation for the Future emerging. I am thankful for the support everyone has been giving to the Yesod Le’Atid campaign.

As you consider your giving plans for the rest of 2021, please consider an additional contribution. Perhaps you have a Required Minimum Distribution that is larger than you expected, or a Donor Advised Fund that could be used.

Regardless of source or amount, your support is appreciated.

With wishes for a healthy year,

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


During May, the construction moved forward in small subsets of the work, all of which will be critical for a later phase. For example, workers have prepped the east wall of the sanctuary for the stone covering that will be laid over in the future. (At some point… we’re dependent on when the stone is delivered!) Another small step was that a large hole was cut into the “closet” that existed on the West wall, between the two pods. This space formerly held the sound system (and some ducts that apparently were not in use any longer) and will now be used to hide the partition between the pods when it’s not extended. Another step for the operable partitions was adding two large steel beams to better support the partitions, and two pockets to hold the panels when the sanctuary is opened to the pods.

Indirectly related to the sanctuary renovations, but also important, new security and fire alarm systems were installed as well as the video surveillance system. All of this work was paid for by the Homeland Security Grant, and we have Art Siegel, Jake Sosnoff, Julia Rietz, and Rabbi Alan to thank for the funds we received towards those improvements.

Many other components of the work are currently being fabricated or assembled. As the summer moves along it will be exciting when different parts start arriving to be installed!

A final note – to create the large new windows on the north and south walls, masons removed a number of bricks, and we are making a limited number available as souvenirs! To purchase your own commemorative brick, with certificate of authenticity, please contact the Sinai Temple office. Bricks are $36 each, and there is a limit of 3 per household.

Sanford Hess, Chair


The past month saw the end of demolition and the beginning of construction. The most visible step was cutting large holes in the brick walls of the sanctuary for the new windows. As the pictures (including the one in the News-Gazette) show, this started on the interior South wall and then as the weather improved the exterior North wall. Rest assured, the workers will take careful steps to protect the building while there’s a hole in the wall before the glass is installed. Also shown in the pictures: there’s a noticeable amount of additional light, which is exactly the desired result!

Many design decisions were refined in the past month, including choosing a chair (the “Sauder Unity”) and the shades for the flooring in the pods & sanctuary carpet. Closing one of the biggest open items: a final approach was selected for the ceiling construction, and we’re happy to say that the one we liked the best was also less expensive. The ceiling cost was the biggest question mark remaining, allowing for informed decisions on the budget for other items. Another big decision was made on lighting for the pods, with design guidance driven by a picture of a local church with glowing lights that the SRC really loved.

In the next month, work moves forward on many parts of the infrastructure, such as the heating/cooling, electrical, and the steel beams holding the pod doors.

Sanford Hess, Chair


Since the demolition phase of the project, the SRC has been busy with many decisions. Most of these are related to the finishes and colors of surfaces, such as the ceramic stone that will cover the East wall. In many of these cases, these decisions are revisiting ones made during an earlier phase of the design. However, as the contractors were selected for this work, we must re-select from the options based on the type of materials selected. So it was with the stone… in an earlier phase we selected a shade of quarried stone, but cost constraints led us to consider other materials, where we had to select from their shades and tones. Similar decision-making is occurring as we finalize selections of flooring, wood, and even the exit signs.

Likewise, decision-making is occurring now for the sanctuary chairs, Levin lounge furniture, bimah furniture, and most importantly – the ark. In all of these cases, sub-groups of the SRC were created to focus on the design decisions. There’s a lot to consider in every case, from look and feel down to price… and your SRC is taking all of these decisions seriously.

During April the construction phase will begin, starting with some of the underlying parts – like the structural steel that holds up the partition doors and the heating/cooling and electrical infrastructure. Look for ongoing photos on the Facebook page!

Sanford Hess, Chair


Why am I still asking you for contributions? Because we need your support to do as much of our wish list as possible during the renovation.

As I write this, I’ve begun my pre-Passover preparations. This year my preparations included making my plan for charitable giving for the year. I hope your preparations include making a gift to Sinai Temple and the Yesod Le’Atid campaign.

Hag Sameach,

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


Renovation has begun! During the month of February the work crew: removed the old partition doors, disassembled the bimah, peeled up the carpeting, and carefully removed the existing pieces of art – including the wooden Ark doors. This work followed a major clearing out of items from the sanctuary – thank you to all of the volunteers who did the work! You’ll also be happy to know that the pews are getting a wonderful second life with a Bloomington charity that provides food to the needy, providing seating at their facility.

Some of the next phases of work will focus on infrastructure. There will be work to reinforce the structural steel that holds the partition doors, all-new heating and cooling ductwork, and at some point large new windows will be cut into the brick walls on the North and South walls. Later phases of the project will proceed to the details, some of which the SRC is still in the process of deciding. For example: a group of SRC members is checking out the chairs that were shipped to Sinai for the all-important “sit test” for comfort.

Stay tuned on Facebook, and future newsletters, for more updates on the progress!

Sanford Hess, Chair


Much thanks to everyone who has contributed to the Yesod Le’Atid campaign. But we are not finished – you can still make an additional investment in our future. The Renovation committee is making final decisions on furniture and finishings. Every dollar will help enhance our spaces.

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


February is still the goal to start construction, so by the time you read this there might work crews starting on the first phase: demolition. Although that sounds serious, there’s not much being demolished in our project. The Bimah will be completely removed and there will be work in the pods to prepare for new partition doors. Also, most of the lights and ductwork in the ceiling will be removed – they’re being replaced.

The good news in January was that the City’s comments on our building plans required only minor changes. Comments are a normal part of the review process, and they can have serious impacts on a design if parts aren’t up to code – so having only small changes is a big deal.

During January our General Contractor (Felmley Dickerson) conducted the bidding for the sub-contractors who will do components of the work. (Electrical, plumbing, mechanical, …) This is an important step, and it’s in good hands with Jim Meek, the lead person from Felmley-Dickerson. Jim has been part of our process since April, so he’s been part of all the discussions that went into the plans. He’ll oversee all of those aspects and make sure everything fits together.

We look forward to reporting on progress in March. Look for some pictures on the Temple’s Facebook page once work begins!

Sanford Hess, Chair


Sanford’s report gives us the exciting news that after all of our preparations, the renovation is beginning in earnest! Many thanks to the generous donors who have helped to get us to this stage.

We still need to raise more funds if we are to realize certain other aspects of the project we think are important. For instance, our architects Landau| Zinder have included a design to make the bathrooms fully accessible and up-to-date. To do so will require significant additional funds beyond what has been raised to date.

As you are planning your 2021 giving, please consider the renovation. For those of you who must take required distributions from your IRAs, perhaps you can use these funds to support the campaign.

Our campaign is called Yesod Le’Atid, a Foundation for Our Future, because we are truly striving to take a holistic approach toward renovating our space to meet the needs of future generations who will find a home at Sinai Temple. Thank you for being part of this vision.

Stay safe,

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


December was a busy month for the renovation. In quick succession, two versions of the construction drawings were created. First there was a “90% version”, which we reviewed carefully with the General Contractor and used to make some small adjustments. For example, down to the level of detail of where outlets would be located on the East wall. After that feedback was absorbed, a final version of the drawings was submitted to the city for permit review on December 21st. The city will review the drawings and possibly request changes. At the end of their approval process, they will issue building permits, which are necessary to begin construction. We are still targeting a February start for that work.

Another stage in the process has also begun: our General Contractor has begun taking bids from sub-contractors for specialty work like Electricians and Heating/Cooling. Each of these is bigger than you might expect! Electrical work includes also the Audio-Visual components, so that will include all of the microphones, speakers, video-cameras, and screens. (Given how successful online services have been during the pandemic, we’re making sure that there’s an ability to broadcast services from the Sanctuary after we’re back in the building.) Heating & Cooling work involves an almost complete re-do of the way the air is spread throughout the Sanctuary and Pods. Better air dispersal will give us more effective control, but doesn’t require replacing the heat pumps with a different system.

Finally, with so many of the core construction components defined, in January the SRC will be turning its attention to some of the final details – like the type of chairs, colors for the finishes, and selection of the furniture pieces (for example, in the Levin Lounge).

We are looking forward to an exciting 2021, and we hope that future updates might even have pictures to show the construction progress.

Sanford Hess, Chair


Our Sinai Temple community continues to exemplify strength and caring in the face of the challenges of 2020. Especially noteworthy was the end of the year match for the Yesod Le’Atid campaign. Thanks to all of you and the match donors, we brought in $172,201 in new funds and pledges. We rock!

Though our match challenge has concluded, fundraising efforts continue. Every dollar contributed continues to move us closer to realization of our vision.

See you in 2021 in our enhanced spaces.

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


By the time you’re reading this bulletin in December,
we are hoping to have our final construction drawings submitted to the City for permit review, with a goal to start construction in February – and an ultimate goal to complete the work by the High Holidays in 2021!

Through the Fall, there have been a series of meetings to refine the design and trim costs wherever possible. For example, a recent change was to NOT replace the windows on the North and South sides of the Sanctuary. An earlier plan was to re-locate the stained glass, and allow more natural light to come the windows. The stained glass is a treasured part of the temple’s history, and there was always the hazard that it could be damaged while taking it down – that made this decision easier than most. We are still planning to add large additional windows high up on both the North and South walls for more natural light.

Recently we’ve been focused on more specialized parts of the renovation, like the sound system and the pod doors. It’s exciting to get down to this level of detail and planning. Sometimes there’s a ripple impact of changes. The new pod doors will have better soundproofing, but are also heavier (and yet, much easier to move than the current ones!) The structural engineer told us we need more support, so there will be some additional bracing added to the beams the walls hang from. Through all of these discussions, our General Contractor has been right there – and we are thrilled that he’s in these discussions from the beginning. We’re very thankful to have found such a great partner in Jim Meek, from Felmley-Dickerson.

Ultimately, we hope to balance to balance the renovation between a beautiful worship space and the less exciting – but still important – changes needed to make that space safe, secure, and accessible.

Sanford Hess, Chair


As the SRC has worked with the architects on envisioning this renovation, we have seen many beautiful design proposals, and the scope of the project has shifted a bit. Updating the sanctuary and pods continues to be at the center of any design plan, but there are other elements that have been considered that would update and enrich our Temple for future generations.

Last month, the Board of Trustees made the difficult decision to set a budget based only on funds that have been raised or pledged. Thus the SRC has worked to make changes to the proposed design with an eye to reduce the list to fit within the funding.

One change was to remove the renovation of the south bathrooms – the ones closest to the lobby entrance from Windsor Road– from the current project. The bathrooms had been added to the project over and above the original scope of the renovation, with an eye towards making more of the facilities accessible, but a discussion with the city clarified that updating them is not required for code compliance. It is hoped that additional fundraising will allow for changes to the bathrooms, but since they are not part of the “core” project they are currently considered to be an optional component. Other modifications were made to the plans to cut costs where possible, such as by removing proposed ceiling covering in the pods, removing some proposed decorative coverings on the side walls, and re- thinking the replacement of some windows on the North and South walls of the Sanctuary. Again, as funds continue to come in, it may be feasible to restore some of these items. Every contribution makes a difference for this project, and the SRC is working closely with the Development Committee so that all can be engaged in the planning and execution of a beautiful space that will serve us well into the future.

In the next steps, the SRC will finalize some design decisions and the architect will create the final “Construction Documents” that will be submitted to the city for permits, and to the general contractor who will use them to line up sub-contractors. We are excited that as we near this stage, we will soon have artists’ renderings of the proposed designs to share. (Keep in mind that the General Contractor has been part of the design process since the spring, so they are very familiar with the decisions that have been made so far.) The SRC is dedicated to moving forward with the next phase of the project, now that the Board has clarified the scope of the work.

Sanford Hess, Chair


We are an amazing congregation. We have raised close to $1.2 million dollars. While this is well over the original fundraising goal initially set for this project, as the potential scope of the project has widened, the potential price tag has also in- creased. In the past few months, in response to additional ap- peals, many have stepped up to make new pledges or increase previous pledges. This is, of course, greatly appreciated; the more we raise, the more goals we can realize.

As Sanford reports, the Temple Board has directed the Renovation committee to plan according to the amount of money raised or pledged. At the moment, this means that the Renovation committee has been making tough decisions to scale back on certain components of the project based on the budget. As Sanford reported, one such revision is to exclude the renovation of the bathrooms near our entrance from our current plans. If enough donors come forward to support the goal of making these restrooms fully accessible, we may still be able to under- take this component of the project.

Every gift is important because it signifies how important Sinai Temple is to each member of our community. Thank you for your continued support.

As always, please feel free to ask me any questions –

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


During the month of September, the Sinai Renovation Committee (SRC) met with the architects and contractor to finalize cost estimates for the components of the renovation. Different parts of the project were estimated individually, especially because some of the changes were added after the initial discussion of the renovation. (Just one example: a proposal to revamp the Library space and make it more usable.)

An important meeting occurred on September 22nd when the Board met to determine the final budget for the renovation project. While we will not be able to do all of the updates desired, the SRC will now use the overall project budget to make final decisions about finishes, and what parts of the work will be performed. Those discussions will occur during October, with a goal of starting construction as close to the original schedule as possible.

Sanford Hess, Chair


Thanks to all who have stepped up to the plate to help us achieve our goals for the renovation. As you know, difficult decisions are being made to fit the project to the funds that we have raised thus far. Please think about increasing your pledge.

Please contact me if you have questions –

Wynne Korr, Chair, Development Committee


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.