Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.


In the Parasha Yitro (יתרו, Exodus 18:1-20:23), impressed by the divine miracles, notably the opening of the Yam Souf (the Red Sea) and the war against ‘Amalek, Yitro, Moses’ father-in-law, joins the Israelites. He advises Moses on governance. The Jews gather at the foot of Mount Sinai. God reveals to them that they have been chosen to be a ‘kingdom of priests’ and a ‘holy nation’, and He proclaims the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 20:14:
וְכָל-הָעָם רֹאִים אֶת-הַקּוֹלֹת וְאֶת-הַלַּפִּידִם, וְאֵת קוֹל הַשֹּׁפָר, וְאֶת-הָהָר, עָשֵׁן
And all the people saw the voices and the torches, the sound of the shofar, and the smoking mountain.

The Beth Sholom congregation, founded in Philadelphia in 1919, moved to Elkins Park in the 1950s and began to build a new synagogue to accommodate an increasing number of members.

Designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright(1), the Elkins Park synagogue, an architectural masterpiece(2), is distinguished by its inclined walls in stepped translucent reinforced glass and plastic. The interior is bathed in natural light during the day, and at night, the entire building radiates with artificial light. From the outside, the building rises towards the sky, evoking a “luminous Mount Sinai(3). On each of its three large edges, the architect has placed a stylized seven-branched candelabrum, visible from all sides.

(1) Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), an American architect and designer, completed more than 400 projects. In 1991, the American Institute of Architects recognized him as the greatest American architect in history.
(2) This is the only synagogue designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 70 years of creation. It was inaugurated a few months after his death.
(3) Luminous Mount Sinai is a description by Frank Lloyd Wright himself.

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