Physical accessibility and comfort are a priority for the Congregation and have been a driving consideration behind ongoing building renovations.
The main entrance and the office entrance are accessible with no steps from Harrison Street and from the parking area. Main doors can be opened by pulling the handle outward. There is a curb cut at the end of the sidewalk leading from Harrison Street to the lobby entrance. There is a sloped sidewalk from the parking area to the Eastern entrance.
There are no steps on the main floor. The Sanctuary and Social Hall are all easily accessible to people using wheelchairs. Services are usually held on the floor level, although the Holy Ark is on a raised bima (stage). Wheelchair seating is most convenient in the back, center aisle, and second-row cut-outs in the center. Sound amplification is best in the center of rows six to ten along the Whalley Avenue side. A Hearing Loop system was installed in the Sanctuary in May 2014. Sanctuary seats are fixed and 18″ wide; see a discussion in “Dear Rabbi.”
The George G. Posener Daily Chapel Beit Midrash is accessible on the main floor. Seating is movable and people using wheelchairs can choose almost any location.
A large single-person wheelchair-accessible washroom is available on the first floor off the main lobby; it can accommodate an assistant. It is for use by persons of any gender. An infant changing table is located in the adjacent nursing room. The original accessible washroom, which the current room replaces, was provided through the generosity of Tina Rose and of Phillip Rao. The washrooms in the school wing of the first floor are not yet accessible: the entry doorways are very narrow and other accommodations have not been made. The school wing washrooms are marked Men and Women.
In May 2013, the lower level men’s washroom and women’s washroom and women’s lounge were updated to be fully accessible. The project included widening the doorways and installing new fixtures. The project was sponsored by the BEKI Sisterhood, The Buckman Family and the Sachs Family. See “It’s a Mitzva, or, Yes We Can!,” Bulletin May 2013, p. 13.
The drinking fountain in the classroom wing is not readily accessible to people using wheelchairs.
The main building is carpeted with low-pile or no-pile carpet, including the Rosenkrantz Library and the George G. Posener Daily Chapel – Beit Midrash. The classroom building is not carpeted. The linoleum floor is kept clean.
The lower levels, including the Lower Social Hall, kitchen, three classrooms, and lower level washrooms, are accessible by elevator from the lobby. On Shabbat and Festivals, the elevator operates automatically according to a Shabbat timer, running between the main lobby and the corridor next to the lower lobby.
The Sukka is erected in the courtyard on Harrison Street and is accessible directly from the front sidewalk. The Sukka, erected in 1999 in memory of Moishe Schnitman, has no steps and is on a level area. Part of the area is grassy and part is paved with accessibility-compliant paving bricks. It is not necessary to traverse the grassy area to reach the Sukka.
The Claire Goodwin Youth Room, in which the Children’s Shabbat Ḥavura meets, is fully accessible through the classroom wing hallway and an external door, with inclined walkway, via the courtyard.
Parking spaces dedicated for those with official handicap stickers are available in the parking lot. Parking on Harrison Street is also convenient and close to the main doors. An accessible entrance from the parking area as envisioned in the Master Plan for Building Renovations – Phase IIB opened in September 2004.
In consideration of members and guests with acute food allergies, and our observance of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), it is prohibited to bring food items into the synagogue building without prior authorization from the synagogue office and the rabbi. Peanut-free and nut-free snacks are provided for all children’s and youth programs. Peanuts and nuts are generally not permitted in the building for public or school functions. Religious School faculty and staff are trained in the use of epi-pens, which are available in the School office and some classrooms. Qiddush presentations for the general congregation and sukka meals should not contain peanuts or nuts. However, BEKI does not guarantee the facility to be nut-free. Those carrying items such as candy and snacks for personal consumption must keep them out of classrooms, children’s rooms, and dining areas. If you are visiting our Congregation and have an acute food allergy, please let us know in advance of your visit so that we can take whatever precautions may be practical.
Matsa baked at BEKI for Passover is made from several grains, including low-gluten and gluten-free grains. However, the same equipment is used for all grains and those concerned about purity are encouraged to inquire.