In September, 2012, thanks to a generous donation from Judy, Maddy, and Wendy Cohen, Temple Beth Abraham renovated our sanctuary.
“A house of prayer for all people,” quoted from the psalms, by Rabbi David Holtz of Temple Beth Abraham, describes an important motivation for the recently completed renovations of the Tarrytown Temple’s Sanctuary.
The work was done, the Rabbi explained, to provide accessibility to all congregants regardless of their disabilities,”…not just to get a nice new look for the room.” The major remodeling was completed in time to accommodate worshippers for the High Holy days, during the last two weeks of September.
Congregants with certain physical limitations were not able to reach the ark, in which the Torah scrolls are stored, “but there were many other accessibility issues,” the Rabbi said. A wheelchair ramp has been installed. Pews and carpets were ripped up and an induction loop was placed in the concrete flooring so that people with hearings problems can pick up sound directly through their hearing aids. Screens and projectors will show displays in large print to help those with visual impairments. Lighting has been improved.
“For folks who physically can’t be here, are shut-ins, or who can’t drive at night, we are now going to be able to stream our services online,” the Rabbi added. As for the decorative changes, Holtz described them as “the icing on the cake. The sanctuary looks beautiful.”
The renovations were a gift from one family. “Judy Cohen and her daughters, Maddy and Wendy, provided the support in memory of Judy’s husband, and the daughter’s father, Alan, so that Alan’s values could be lived out every day, those of inclusion and accessibility,” Holtz said.
The Temple was first opened for services in 1955. The congregation now numbers 380 families and was established 110 years ago as the Hebrew Congregation of Tarrytown and North Tarrytown. It initially held its services in the homes of members and then in a room over the dry goods store of Hyman Levy. When the congregation grew, it built a synagogue in 1905 on Valley Street, in then North Tarrytown, and also used a Jewish Center building in 1933 on North Washington Street before moving to its present Temple.
Services are performed in both the reform and conservative traditions.
-excerpted, with permission, from the article Temple Beth Abraham Sanctuary Renovated to Improve Accessibility from the Hudson Independent, October 4, 2012, Written by Robert Kimmel.
For more information on the new sanctuary, see this blog post by Sharon DeLevie.