Extreme Makeover – Synagogue Edition

Dr. Ron Wolfson


Synagogues looking to makeover the “atmosphere” of their sacred space would do well to take note of how The Gap recently transformed their stores from “institutional” to “homey.” In an effort to woo back customers, the retailer has devised a radical plan to remodel their outlets.


Orthodoxy Has Chance to Reshape Role

December 8, 2005 

A window has opened to the Orthodox community. We are being invited to help reshape the social dynamics of the American Jewish community. With courage and vision, we need to act on this opportunity by understanding the important changes that have occurred over the last decades and rethinking the way we engage the broader Jewish community.

Synagogue Transformation Revisited and some thoughts on "k'dushah"

Richard A. Marker

December 2002

Three years ago, I penned an article for Sh'ma calling for the transformation of the synagogue as we have known it in post-War [WWII, that is] America. The article posited the impossibility of any one synagogue effectively delivering service in all of the areas it arrogates to itself. By attempting to do so, I argued, mediocrity is virtually guaranteed.

The Personnel Crisis in Jewish Life: A contrarian perspective and new approaches

Richard A. Marker

February 2003


Several years ago, shortly after moving to New York, I was invited to serve on the young leadership boards of 2 different national Jewish organizations. I was both surprised and flattered. After all, by that time I had been active in the Jewish community for over 30 years, having held numerous significant lay and professional leadership roles. So it was surprising to be asked -to represent "new" leadership - although it was confirming to be seen as a part of the future more than the past.

My Ideal Synagogue - Yaacov Agam

Yaacov Agam, a maser of kinetic art and the son of a rabbi, has pioneered a form of visual art influenced by the Jewish conception that reality is not static and cannot be represented in a graven image. His images are in a state of ``constant becoming'' --- they cannot be seen in their totality and any one time or from any one position.

My Ideal Synagogue

Written and illustrated by Yaacov Agam

From Reform Judaism, Fall 1994

Reprinted with permission.

What is the function of the synagogue, and does the architecture meet the needs of the worshipers? After considering these questions for many years, I have concluded sadly that the architectural organization of most synagogues inhibits rather than enhances the spiritual aspirations of our people.