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The Synagogue evolves for the 21st Century

A panel discussion at the USCJ Biennial Convention in Atlanta this December considers how Synagogue design can be adapted to increase attendance...

by Nick Myall 23 November 2017
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    Leaders in the Jewish community are discovering that their synagogues can do more to meet the needs of rapidly evolving congregations. Can a fresh, new approach to synagogue architecture and interiors help further expand attendance? 

    For ideas on the latest solutions, architect Joshua Zinder, AIA, who specializes in the design of Jewish worship and study spaces, will present a comprehensive view of today’s challenges and opportunities as part of a panel discussion on Sunday, December 3 in Atlanta, part of the program for a major biennial gathering of congregants and leaders of Conservative Judaism. 

    Titled "Synagogue Design in the 21st Century: Fusion and Inclusion,” the panel features fundraising consultant Robert Evans, Rabbi Michael Uram, executive director of Hillel at the University of Pennsylvania, and Zinder. Rabbis, temple administrators, and congregants from around the country—attending the biennial convention of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism—will hear directly from the panel as they address the challenges facing communities with out-of-date facilities and 21st-Century demographic realities.

    Zinder, who is founding principal of Princeton, NJ-based design firm JZA+D and partner in the boutique firm Landau | Zinder specializing in synagogue design, says his approach stems from his own personal experience, his own children and his temple. He emphasizes “reclaiming” underutilized temple space and adapting it for new uses. 

    These insights have translated into inspiring and cost-effective solutions he is putting to work for several congregations. 

    One strategy involves dividing a sanctuary into two or more sanctuaries, allowing for a service and ritual experience that is as flexible and diverse as the congregants are and reducing operating costs for all. Zinder also suggests adapting reclaimed sanctuary space into offices, or better yet, amenities—coffee kiosks, yoga studios, etc.—that attract a more diverse community of worshippers and present opportunities for new revenue. Both strategies aim to bring Jewish worshippers together as a community, across age and denomination.

    As part of the panel discussion, Zinder will present examples of his work, including Temple Beth El in Jersey City, NJ, currently under construction.

    PANEL: Synagogue Design in the 21st Century: Fusion and Inclusion

    WHAT:Panel discussion at USCJ Biennial Convention

    WHERE:Atlanta Marriott Marquis265 Peachtree Center AvenueAtlanta, Georgia 30303

    WHEN:Sunday, December 3, 4:30-5:30pm

    WHO:Joshua Zinder, AIA, founding principal, JZA+D; partner, Landau Zinder

    Robert Evans, president, The Evans Consulting Group

    Rabbi Michael Uram

    RSVP:Register to attend USCJ

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