About Congregation Emanuel
Welcome to Congregation Emanu-El.
For more than 100 years, Congregation Emanu-El has been a vibrant community; a model of progressive, liberal Judaism in the Heartland of America.
We welcome new members, whatever their background or affiliation, and invite them to come and be a part of something exciting, working to fulfill their unique potential and make the world a better place (Tikkun Olam).
Our Temple Building
The Sanctuary is constructed to represent the elements of G’s nature: the wood walls represent the forest, the high windows look out to the sky above, and the green carpet is G’s earth beneath our feet. Our sanctuary, like all Jewish sanctuaries, faces east so that we are facing toward Jerusalem as we pray.
In the front of the sanctuary is the Aron Hakodesh, the Holy Ark, which contains the Torah scrolls. A Torah is a scroll made of animal skins, on which are written the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These scrolls are handwritten by specially trained scribes, using a special ink and a natural feather quill. There are no vowels or punctuation in the Torah. There are also no cantillation marks to help the reader with the chanting melody. In preparation for Bat Mitzvah or Bar Mitzvah (for a boy) ceremony, the students must learn the entire Torah passage and its cantillation well enough not to need vowels or other notation.
Directly above the Ark is a representation of the Ten Commandments. The first words of each commandment are stylized on the stone tablets.
Hanging from the ceiling above the ark is the Ner Tamid, the Eternal Light. It is left burning at all times. This is a reminder of the Eternal Light in the Ancient Temple in Jerusalem. It is symbolic of the Divine Presence and the light of the Torah.
There are two Menorot, (candelabras), located on each side of the bima, (reader’s platform). The seven-branched candelabra goes back to biblical times and is perhaps the oldest symbol of Judaism. Depictions of Menorot can be found in ancient synagogues dating back millennia. You may have noticed, as well, the menorah on the front lawn of our synagogue.
In the Social Hall, in which we are holding services this morning, you will see other pieces of art including a Ben Shahn tapestry depicting a menorah and a series of cloisonné illustrations by Margaret Seeler on the opposite wall. We have other artwork in our building as well, including works by David Sharir, Mordechai Rosenstein, Marc Chagall and Zvi Milshtein.