Art & Architecture
Designed by Solomon + Bauer Architects of Watertown, MA, Temple Shir Tikva’s building was completed in 1998. Set on six acres, the synagogue, with its clapboard siding and white-painted trim, fits naturally into the New England village landscape and provides a beautiful and comfortable home for our Metrowest Jewish community. As you enter the one-story sky-lit entrance lobby, the Sanctuary and Social Hall are to your right. Glass doors from the Sanctuary lead to a prayer garden enclosed by a curved white brick wall. The wing on the left contains offices and classrooms, a library and open atrium spaces where members can gather. Temple Shir Tikva’s building design was featured in Architecture of the Gods, Book II, by Michael J. Crosbie, Images Publishing Group, Victoria, Australia, 2002.
Our architect conceived of a space that one entered as if from a vestibule, providing a transition from the outside world to this place of worship and tranquility. We move from the entrance lobby with its low ceiling and emerge into the higher vaulted Sanctuary. The design of the Sanctuary reflects the Jewish tradition of linking prayer to the natural world. Expansive windows and clerestories allow abundant light into the interior and provide a view of treetops and sky.
The Sanctuary, Social Hall and intermediate space were conceived as a whole. When partitions are removed to accommodate larger programs and worship services, everyone is together in the same room; no one is seated in “auxiliary” space. The absence of fixed seating allows for maximum flexibility in use of the space. On Shabbat, the bimah is located in front of the Ark on the east wall. During the High Holy Days, however, the dais moves to the center of the north wall to enable clear sight lines and seating for the whole community.
Adjoining the sanctuary, a brick-walled prayer garden is an oasis for quiet contemplation, spiritual renewal, prayer and meditation. The garden is dedicated to the memory of Andrew Merrill Pastor, a congregant who died in 1988 at the age of 17.
In the design of Temple Shir Tikva’s ark, the architect and his team used elements that have been repeated through the ages: a vaulted ceiling; fluted pillars; a structure large enough to convey the centrality of Torah while still fitting the room in size and style; and a place for Hebrew verses. The design is at once traditional and modern; dignified and modest; symbolic and utilitarian. The Hebrew verse above the ark, Dah lifne mi atah omed, is taken from the rabbinic text of Pirke Avot. It means, “Know before whom you stand!” The verse on the right doorpost is from the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah. Od lo avdah tikvatenu, "Our hope has not been destroyed.” The verse on the left is from Psalm Shiru, Shir Hadash, “Sing a new song.” The doorpost verses contain the words Shir Tikva, firmly rooting our community in sacred text.
In 2010, the congregation commissioned artist Jeanette Kuvin Oren of Woodbridge, CT, to create a new ark curtain. The Tree of Life (etz chaim) depicted on the curtain reflects the living trees visible from the high windows in the sanctuary. “[Wisdom] is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her, and happy is everyone that holdest her fast.” Proverbs 3:13-18.
Temple Shir Tikva is home to four Torah scrolls. The oldest is on permanent loan from the Memorial Scrolls Trust, Westminster Synagogue in London. This Torah was saved from the Holocaust, and before the war belonged to the Jewish community in Jicin, a town the size of Wayland, north of Prague, Czechoslovakia. The Torah was rededicated in Wayland on May 16, 1980, before Shir Tikva had a permanent home. A second Torah was dedicated in 1985 and a third in 1995. In 2004, on the occasion of its 25th anniversary, Temple Shir Tikva commissioned a new Torah from Soferim Benyamin in Israel and Rabbis Gedalya and Moshe Druin of Florida. Over the course of the year, our community engaged in the study of creating a Torah and wrote letters in the Torah in the traditional manner.
Our Holocaust Torah is covered in white velvet with black bands and words commemorating its origin in Jicin, Czechoslovakia. Covers for three other Torahs were commissioned from Jeanette Kuvin Oren in 2010. These Torah covers are proudly featured as the background art on our website. Please click the Torah icon on any page to read more about our Torah covers.
Traditional silver Torah crowns, yads and a breastplate enhance our Torah coverings and tell the story of the migration of Jews in Boston. The crowns, one yad and breastplate were inherited through congregants from Temple Anshe Poland, founded in 1893 in Boston’s North End.
The eternal light symbolizes God’s presence in our midst. Local sculptress Nancy Schoen, designer of the famous ducklings in Boston Garden, designed our Ner Tamid. Her design is built on the Hebrew letter “shin,” which is often used as a reference to the Hebrew word Shaddai, one name of God. The upper circle contains seven shin letters; the lower circle, three. At the base is a small pomegranate, a fruit symbolizing abundance and fertility often used in Jewish literature and art.
A menorah created by artist David Klass adorns the sanctuary. The menorah has been a symbol of Judaism since ancient times and is the emblem on the coat of arms of the modern state of Israel.
Our community’s chuppah hangs in the sanctuary and is available for use by congregants. Made of silk charmeuse, and hand painted with floral designs, the chuppah was created by Corinne Soiken Strauss of Wainscott, NY. In the center are the words embroidered in gold, Ani L’Dodi v’Dodi Li, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”
Our etched glass Yartzeit wall was designed by architect Michael Rosenfeld of Concord, MA.