Extreme Makeover – Synagogue Edition

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.

Ron's Cool Ideas

As I visit different synagogues, I pick up little ideas, things that people do, that resonate. As I come across the really 'cool' ones, I'm going to report them in this ongoing column of "best practices." Enjoy!

Ron Wolfson





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Turning 40: Beyond Boomers

If you have already turned 40, you know it is no ordinary birthday; if you are not yet 40, pray God you will get there, but, perhaps, with appropriate trepidation.

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With Yoga, Comedy and Parties, Synagogues Entice Newcomers

A hipster synagogue grows in SoHo, drawing large crowds with its "Torah cocktail parties" in fancy loft apartments and user-friendly prayer services designed especially for the uninitiated.

Boston's Jewish Renaissance

Fifteen years after a study on the rise of interfaith marriages had Jewish leaders bemoaning their religion's slow death, Judaism is thriving in Boston. What's more surprising is who's leading the revival.

Orthodoxy Has Chance to Reshape Role

A window has opened to the Orthodox community. We are being invited to help reshape the social dynamics of the American 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.

My Ideal Synagogue - Images

Designed of translucent plexiglass prisms, the ark projects from the wall in three triangles.