January 10, 2002

Beth Sholom Synagogue

Although I have lived in the Philadelphia area for more than eight years I had only had the opportunity to see the outside of the building until a business trip took me to the west side of Philadelphia on a weekday. At the time I visited, tours were offered at 10 am and 2 pm. Make sure you call ahead if you are planning a visit. You can find more information at the the Beth Sholom website. These are the exterior photographs that were taken on another day when it was sunny. Don't miss the interior photographs
The book: Together They Built A Mountain describes the history of the building.
There is a handout that I received before the tour that explains the extensive symbolism that is present in the design of the temple. The building is an abstract image of a mountain — Mount Sinai.
The first photograph is the building seen from the left front.Clicking on most images on this page will display an enlarged photograph.
Beth Sholom exterior.
The next photograph is the right front.
Beth Sholom exterior.
This is the view of the back of the building from the left side.
Beth Sholom exterior.
And the view of the back from the right parking lot.
The annex building is to the left in this photograph.
Beth Sholom exterior.
A closer view of the front entry. There is a photograph from the interior looking out on the interior photographs page.
Beth Sholom exterior front.
Looking up the edge of the building.
Beth Sholom exterior looking up the side of the building.
By the front entry.
Beth Sholom.
And the Frank Lloyd Wright tile.
FLLW initials.

As I entered the main space of the temple I was again struck by how Frank Lloyd Wright rooms feel different from others. Personally I feel calmed and serene in his spaces — much like being in a forest. He would probably like that given his fondness of Nature. His mastery of space is something that should be experienced first hand. Photographs rarely do his rooms justice.

These are the interior photographs taken on January 10, 2002, which unfortunately was a cloudy day. 

The exterior photographs were taken on a different (sunny) day.

The first photograph is entry to the main space after entering the front door of the temple.
Clicking on the images on this page will display an enlarged photograph.
Beth Sholom entry.
This is the entryway to the Sisterhood Sanctuary below.
The tour does not include this room and it was closed.
Beth Sholom sisterhood sanctuary entry.
This is looking back out the front door.
Notice the mitered glass without a frame — a common Wright technique.
Beth Sholom view out the front from inside.
This is the view as you enter the main space.
The walkway up from the front door compresses the space
and then it lets out into the main temple.
Beth Sholom inside.
This is a closer view of the Ark at the center.
Beth Sholom ark.
This is the view from the left side of the main space.
Notice the pattern on the concrete above. The pattern reminded me of the
pattern in the concrete at the Florida Southern College campus.
Beth Sholom inside right.
This is the Chandelier. It has lights that were not on at the time of the tour.
The colors have meaning (from the tour handout):
Blue for Wisdom
Green for Insight and Understanding
Yellow or Gold is for Courage and Justice
Cream White is for Mercy and Loving-Kindness
Beth Sholom Chandelier.
The next photograph is a view from the left side of the Ark looking out towards the front entry.
Beth Sholom looking out from the right of the ark.
And this is looking up.
Beth Sholom looking up.
Overall an impressive Wright building. The outside alone is just interesting, but the inside really makes it special. Perhaps that is part of the message.

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