Congregation Beth El–Keser Israel

85 Harrison Street, New Haven, CT 06515-1724 | P: 203.389.2108 |

Our banner is based on BEKI’s stained glass, designed in 2008 by Cynthia Beth Rubin. For information on this and other of Cynthia’s work, go to: <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. Artisan Fabrication by JC Glass of Branford, CT

Living Our Values: Sanctuary Redesign at BEKI

Our mission: to design a sanctuary that is inspirational, warm, inclusive, accessible, and feasible.

New Ark Design!
June 26 at 7:30pm on Zoom

Video: Why Redesign the Sanctuary?
(Call office for password)

Project Overview 

Rabbi Eric Woodward asks:

What would it look like if our spiritual space were designed to express our values? At BEKI, there is no front or back, but rather bonds of equality and love. At BEKI, we value all the voices in our diverse congregation. What would it be like to pray in a space that reflected our religious priorities?

A sanctuary redesign means rethinking how we use BEKI’s sanctuary.

The room was designed in the late 1950s for a formal, hierarchical style of worship. The rabbi and cantor led services on a high stage, like performers, with congregants seated like a passive audience.

A redesign means creating a sanctuary that reflects our 21st-century values of warmth and inclusiveness, egalitarianism and engagement. It means enhancing our volunteer-led services, in which we are all participants, not audience members. It means a design that expresses our BEKI values and helps us live those values more fully.

The overarching goals involve making our sanctuary:

  • accessible for everyone;
  • more intimate and participatory in scale and layout;
  • inviting to everyone;
  • physically comfortable (which includes heating, cooling, ventilation, and seating);
  • more environmentally sustainable.

For more about the thinking behind the redesign, please see the messages from Rabbi Eric Woodward and Past President Yaron Lew.

What’s the Latest?

06/2024      BEKI Bulletin June 2024: Construction will start in the fall

11/2023      BEKI Bulletin Nov 2023: Amy Reichert to design new ark

08/2023      BEKI Bulletin article — August 2023

04/2023      BEKI Bulletin article — April 2023

03/2023       Revised conceptual design (Contact office for password)

02/13/2023   Video: Why Redesign the Sanctuary? (Contact office for password)


Message From the Rabbi
“Doing Nothing is Not an Option”
Design Concepts
Frequently Asked Questions
Project Updates
Sanctuary Photos of

Redesign Committee

Carole Bass, co-chair
John Weiser, co-chair
Lynn Brotman
Eric Dunsker, Board liaison & House Committee chair
Howard Gralla z”l
Marga Hirsch
Rick Saltz

Fundraising Committee
Murray Akresh, chair
John Weiser

Implementation Committee
John Weiser, chair

Our Process

Review previous plans and ideas for redesigning the BEKI sanctuary.

Research other congregations that have undertaken similar projects.

Present information and ideas to the BEKI community, and gather feedback.

Provide consistent updates.

Synthesize community feedback into sanctuary design.

Present conceptual designs and collect feedback.

Produce a design that has the support of the congregation and Board of Directors and is ready to implement.