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Furniture Arrangement FAQs
I don’t like the seating arrangement shown in the preliminary sketches. Can it be changed?
The sketches show one possible arrangement for the seats and reader’s table. In response to congregant feedback, we asked the architect to draw an alternative layout, which you can see on the BEKI website (password required).
The rabbi's priority is to have as much flexibility as possible in the seating arrangement and placement of the reader's table. As a congregation, we can try out various arrangements until we find one that most people find satisfactory. We are likely to settle on two or three arrangements to accommodate the needs of various events other than weekly services.
It looks like the sketches show fewer seats than we have now. Do we expect to lose seating capacity?
We expect to reduce the number of seats on a typical Shabbat — which is not the same as losing seating capacity. A major goal of the redesign is to make the sanctuary feel more intimate. Our current capacity is 332 fixed seats — perhaps one-third of which were typically filled, pre-Covid. The sketches show roughly 200 seats. Since they are all movable, we can expand capacity when needed.
What happens on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with less seating?
Please see the answer above: there will be fewer seats on a typical Shabbat, with expanded seating as needed.
If there are fewer chairs overall within the same space, how will we feel more intimate?
Reducing the number of seats means that (in non-Covid times) we will all sit closer to each other. Nobody will be in Alaska, Florida, or Nova Scotia. The design and placement of the ark and ark platform will also make the room more human-scale.
Why can't we integrate pews AND movable chairs, to accommodate all of our needs and interests?
The redesign committee considered combining fixed and movable seats. The drawback is that any fixed seating, no matter where you put it, severely limits the flexibility of seating arrangements. At the congregational Zoom meeting, a BEKI member mentioned a synagogue with short, movable pews. This idea was new to the committee; we are looking into it.
Will we have only the reader’s table or will we also have an additional lectern from which the rabbi and/or the president could speak?
Furnishings may include a movable lectern, allowing someone to speak from the ark platform even when the reader’s table remains on the floor.
Are the bookcases movable?
Is there a space between the bookcases and wall on both sides so you can get in toward the rear seats rather than having to enter in the middle?
Yes. The sketches don't accurately reflect the positioning and length of the bookshelves. There will be aisles along both side walls of the sanctuary, along with a center aisle.