May There Be Shalom Within Our Walls
by Rabbi David Zaslow
Let Them Make Me A Sanctuary
Dedication: June 9, 2002
In Hebrew there is a kind of doing called ta’aseh which is the active verb for “you will do.” Then there is the passive tay’aseh which is the passive verb of doing which does itself. Toward the end of the book of Exodus the Torah speaks of the creative work of an artist named Betzalel whose God inspired creations designing and decorating the mishkan (the tabernacle) flowed through him so that it seemed to do itself.
From the purchase of our land and building in 1998 to the construction of our new sanctuary and school the work seems to have done itself at the Havurah. We are blessed to be in such a loving and supportive community and to have such supportive friends like you.
We are thankful to our general contractor John Schleining for his support and oversight of our project. We are thankful to David Meltzer, our incredible building contractor. We are thankful to our architect Robb Saladoff for his amazing integrative design. We are thankful to Joys Fox-Dresner and Adam Fox for their beautiful interior/exterior design and decor. Thank you to Hal Dresner who helped supervise the construction. And we thank God for all the blessings that we have.
In Exodus 25:8 it is written,“And let them make Me a sanctuary so I may dwell among them.” The holy Rebbe, Menachem Mendel of Kotzk wonders why it was written “..dwell among them.” The proper grammar should state that if the sanctuary is built, God will dwell “in it.”
But no, the Rebbe explains, God does not need a sanctuary to dwell within, God needs us. We are God’s dwelling place, not the building. This idea leads us to an even more sublime way of translating the words, “And let them make Me a sanctuary….” The Kotzker teaches us that on a deeper level God is saying “make Me” your sanctuary, not the building, but “Me.”
So, on this special day when we are gathered to dedicate a new sanctuary and school for the Havurah we ask that God should bless us with the wisdom to remember that all of this is not about physical objects, rituals, or a building fund. It’s about you and me and everyone who enters this sacred space. It’s not about fundraising, it’s about soul-raising. It’s about gratitude to each other and to our Creator.
Than you: Richard Jarel (Ark), Avinoam Zohar (Eternal Light), Kevin Christman (Stained Glass Window), and Karen Bates (Wings of Fabric). The greatest gifts of “work which did itself”came from master artists Richard Jarel, Avinoam Zohar, Kevin Christman, and Karen Bates. The Havurah is indebted to each of them for their masterful contributions that will impact thousands of souls over hundreds of years. Kevin donated almost all his labor (we comissioned a 75 piece window and he delivered a 300 piece window). As you can see his work is astounding.
For the past four years the inspired work of Avinaom Zohar has graced the Havurah. From the mezuzzah on our front door to the eternal light he made for us, his work is an act of prayer and is inspired by Hashem.
For Richard Jarel this project has also been an act of prayer. Richard has donated the Torah ark to the Havurah as a memorial to his father and as his gift to Judaism. It was the purest offering to God imaginable and to the memory of his father, Juventino Aldo Jarel. The cherry wood he selected will change color over the years, just as our perceptions of the ark’s design will change in our minds.
Surrounding the stain-glass window and the ark are six fabric wings by master fabric artist Karen Bates. The six wings represent the days of the week that surround the ark which is Shabbat. Not only does the fabric soften the glass and woodwork, but it seems to give the whole front of the sanctuary a feeling of flight.
The Havurah also wishes to thank Jerry and Donnis Lausmann whose generous donation make possible the purchase of all the materials used in the ark, and for the materials that will be used in the coming year for our Torah table and podium. May God bless them both for the unconditional love they bring to the Jewish people.
This is no ordinary cabinet, light fixture, stained glass window, and fabric art. These are pieces designed for prayer, contemplation, and meditation, and created with extraordinary love for Judaism and for Hashem.
May There Be Peace Within Your Walls
Words from the Artists
Richard Jarel/Torah Ark: I started designing this Ark as my way of saying “thank you” for letting me into you congregation. I am not “officially” Jewish, but I have always felt more for Judaism than for any other religion I had been exposed to. As a child, I was the non-Jew who seemed to always get invited to Passover seder. I was one of the four children in the Hagaddah and I took my role seriously because I was living it. I was the one who asked questions that could never be answered — not really.
It wasn’t until reuniting with my childhood sweetheart here in Ashland, and being introduced to the Havurah, that I finally felt I had found my spiritual home and began receiving some of those answers. In November, 2001, one of those answers led me on a search to find my father, Juventino Aldo Jarel.
On January 2, 2002, I learned that I had missed him by two weeks. He died before I could speak to him on December 17th. This Ark took on a whole new meaning. My father was a fine woodworker— a cabinetmaker by trade — and I was fortunate enough to have worked by his side for several years: talking, laughing and being loved. We spent more time together than any two people did in my family. We sailed, we fished, we worked and always, I was loved. I found a picture of him I had never noticed before, enlarged it and hung it in my studio. From January, 2001 until just yesterday we talked, I cried, we laughed and I was loved.
The real reason I couldn’t deliver the ark to the Havurah before June 9th, was that I was not ready to let go. As I begin crying again, trying to see the letters on this keyboard, I realize I will never be ready to let go, but I know that a part of my father will live on forever in this ark. His love—the love that created the best of who I am—has overflowed into the love I put into creating this sacred piece: from where I know I will receive my answers. Thank you.
Kevin Christman/Tree of Life Stained Glass Window: It was a great honor for me to have been asked by Reb David to design the stained glass window for the Havurah. I could not have done it without Divine help. Jackie Miller was very generous with her time, materials and tools, Rosalind Schrodt was very kind to donate a portion of the glass, Neo-Glassic was very patient to answer questions from a stained glass neophyte, and my wife Marla was always there to give insights and a helping hand.
In a certain way the window made itself. This was the first time that I have seen stained glass being done, so it was a very interesting process to watch, especially since I was the one doing the work. There were many bits of information that appeared in front of me just when I needed them. A book would open to the right page to reveal a crucial bit of information that I needed at that moment, any suggestion from a friend was a voice from the ether and the many strange coincidences were taken as reassurances.
Karen Bates/Eastern Wall Fiber Art: I am a shy person by nature. I am not the one leading the dancing or playing the drums. My connection with Judaism is a personal one. I davven under my tallis, in front of my flowers in my backyard. I find God in the trees, the water and the wind. So, how do I share my feelings with the community? My voice to god comes through my art I sing out loud with my fabrics. I dance with my needle and thread.
These wall hangings were designed to express my relationship with God. The lines radiate down from the heavens, while reaching up to God at the same time. They wrap themselves around the ark, cradling the Torah in their warmth. The lines also reflect the paths of our own lives, flowing from one experience to the next. The separation of the panels symbolizes the disturbances in our lives, while the continuation of the lines from one panel to the next symbolizes the wholeness we find when our lives are filled with God.
Rebecca Gabriel Bornstein/Western Wall “Roots” Painting: It is an honor for me to have my painting “Roots” on extended loan in the new Havurah sanctuary. It is a spiritual work and evokes the depth and Shechinah of Judaism. The endurance of the tree, it’s thirst and growth, its strength and, yes, even it’s unintentional secondary imagery of bones; all this speaks to the soul and mystery of our people and our faith. It has been said to, “Give our children roots and wings.” And so it is my hope, that my painting will communicate some of the power and complexity of who we are, and our deep and enduring Jewish roots.
I was joyous when they said to me,
“To the house of Adonai let us go.
Our feet will stand inside your gates Jerusalem!”
Jerusalem is built as a city to be unified in purpose.
There the tribes go up, the tribes of Yah,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks in the name of Shekhinah.
For seats of awareness were set there,
the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem —
those who love her shall prosper.
May their be Shalom within our walls—Amayn!
and security for all our special places—Amayn!
Because of my brothers and friends,
Because of my sisters and friends—
please let me ask, please let me say, “Peace to you.
This is the house, the house of the Hashem,
I wish the best to you!”
King David’s “Reaching Up Song” That will spiritually link the Havurah
to the Holy City of Jerusalem when read aloud by 100 people filled with joy