A major renovation of our sanctuary was completed in 2005. The sanctuary beautification project was named Ait Livnot – A Time To Build. Our most sacred space was enhanced by the addition of exquisite etched glass art in its windows, carved and gilded ark doors, and glass paneled entry doors, all designed and created by leading American architectural artists. New pews and upholstered seats were constructed by a kibbutz in Israel. The bimah, which retained its beautiful stained-glass windows representing the 12 Tribes of Israel, is now multi-tier and accessible for people with disabilities.
The use of glass illuminates the sanctuary with abundant natural light, creating an atmosphere of serenity, clarity, and harmony. The etched glass panels within the towering windows on each side of the sanctuary contain the quote “In Your Light, We See Light” (Psalm 36:9). The quote on the ark doors proclaims “Torah is Illumination” (Proverbs 6:23). The theme of light and illumination in our sanctuary captures the open and welcoming perspective that Temple Emeth has always embraced.
The Chapel was dedicated in 1952 through the generosity of Herman A. Katz in tribute to his father Mike Katz. It provides an intimate space for study, reflection, celebrations, worship and prayer. It is used during the week and on Shabbat for daily minyan, adult education classes, and by Binah B’emet students.
A beautiful exterior wall features individual stained-glass windows that expressively interpret each of the Ten Commandments. Additional exterior window panels are etched with these verses from Pirkei Avot:
Who is rich? One who is happy with his portion.
Who is honored? One who respects his fellowmen.
Who is mighty? One who subdues his passions.
Who is wise? He who learns from everyone.
The Bible Windows of Temple Emeth
Temple Emeth’s L-shaped lot presented a design challenge that required a creative solution. Two buildings – the Synagogue building and the school wing – sitting at right-angles to each other, were seamlessly integrated by an open air rotunda. Rabbi Zev K. Nelson z”l had the artistic inspiration to use the 39 windows on the curved inside wall of the rotunda to incorporate Jewish heritage – each portrays in stained glass one of the 39 books of the Bible.
The first three windows depict:
- Genesis – commemorating the six million Jews annihilated during the Holocaust
- Exodus – dedicated to the memory of the soldiers who gave their lives for the liberation of the Jewish homeland
- Leviticus – a memorial for the Jewish soldiers who died in defense of the United States.
The remaining 36 windows were dedicated by Temple Emeth congregants in memory of a cherished family member. A book by Rabbi Nelson, The Bible Windows, illustrates and describes each window, and is available in the Temple’s library.
In 1997, a unique memorial to the Martyred Six Million was erected on the Temple grounds. This monument, engraved with a map of Europe, lists the hometowns of family members of the Temple Emeth community who perished in the Holocaust.
Holocaust Memorial Torah
The Temple is fortunate to have a Torah that was part of a collection of ritual objects from the Jewish Museum in Prague. Quite incongruously, assembling these objects after the German occupation was the collective effort of both Czechoslovakian Jews, whose purpose was preservation, and the Nazis, who wanted a showcase museum of the liquidated race. Our scroll, number 1136 from Kromeriz, Czechoslovakia, was purchased in 1980 with a donation from Carl Schlesinger and his late wife Eva, both Holocaust survivors, in memory of their families and the Martyred Six Million. It is suspended from on high in a timeless and mysterious manner at the entrance to our sanctuary.
Temple Emeth’s Lakin Library, is a valuable resource for the entire Congregation.
The library is open Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 5 pm, Friday from 9 am to 1 pm, and on Sunday during the school year from 9 am to 12 noon.
In 1998 the Ethel and Harry Lakin Library was renewed and refurbished in loving memory of Simon and Ida Zilen, Sura Feinberg and Clara W. Goose, and Rose Libby and Albert Diamond through the generosity of the Zilen, Feinberg, and Diamond families.
Sugihara Memorial Garden
In April of 2000 a memorial to Chiune Sugihara was dedicated on the grounds of Temple Emeth. During the Nazi terror, Sugihara served as Japanese Consul to Lithuania. In 1940 in Kovno, Lithuania, his pen quietly, but bravely, issued over 2,000 transit visas to European Jewish families, saving their lives by allowing them safe passage to Japan. Temple Emeth congregant Samuil Manski z”l, one of those rescued by Sugihara, was instrumental in the memorial’s planning and implementation. Sam Manski’s personal story is told in his book, With God’s Help, available for download here.
Sugihara’s image is sketched on the stone monument, and a testimonial to his brave deeds is written in English, Hebrew and Japanese. The monument is located near the Temple’s West Roxbury Parkway entrance. The Sugihara Memorial Committee, composed of Temple Emeth members and the Boston area’s Japanese community, organizes an annual program to honor Chiune Sugihara. In 2008, the Town of Brookline formally honored Chiune Sugihara for his deeds and the city of Tsuruga, Japan, for accepting these families. A video, Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness, tells the story and is available in the Temple’s library.
Donations are accepted for the support of the Sugihara Memorial Garden at Temple Emeth. For information about making a donation click here.
- View photos from Sugihara Commemoration events.
- 2008 Town of Brookline Resolution
- 2008 Town of Brookline Resolution – Japanese translation
Visit website for Consulate-General of Japan in Boston.