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The mitzvah of “Hiddur Mitzvah” means to beautify the righteous deeds we perform. With the desire of making our physical plant as inspiring and beautiful as possible, in 2003, BTBJ installed a gorgeous set of 4 stained glass windows in the Kessel Sanctuary and Fox Auditorium.
Our shul explored the wide world of Jewish wisdom for inspiration for the theme of the windows. After deliberate consideration, we selected a teaching from the Talmud, from Pirke Avot 1:18 that says,
 “The world is founded on these three things: on Justice, on Truth and on Peace.” Each one of the 3 windows in the sanctuary is dedicated to one of these lofty values. Each one features a veritable riot of color as part of their formidable inspiration to us whenever we gather for prayer and events.
The window of Justice (found closest to the rabbi’s pulpit) features a scroll reminiscent of the Torah and other parchments that have taught and instilled within us the attribute of justice for all over 4 millennia. The scales remind us of the Midrash that God created the world with two elements: justice and mercy, hoping that the combination would allow us to live well and righteously. The shofar reminds us that its blasts pierce our hearts and touch our souls, reminding us to pursue justice for ourselves and for others. The word for justice, “Din” is featured prominently in red, reminding us that when justice is neglected, suffering occurs and blood flows. The Torah in Deuteronomy 16:20 teaches, “Justice Justice you shall pursue”. The repetition of the word underscores the importance of pursuing and establishing justice wherever and whenever possible for all.
The window of Truth (located on our inside sanctuary wall near the Cantor’s pulpit) contains a burning candle, symbolic of the fact that with enlightenment and understanding, the elements of truth can be found. The crown reminds us that everyone is responsible to tell the truth, from king to commoner. The tree is symbolic of the Tree of Life, the Torah, which is the Torah of Truth. The Hebrew word for truth is Emet, found upon the scroll of the Torah which occupies the central section of the window. Emet is spelled with the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, teaching us that the truth is only real when it includes the entire truth. The word truth found on the Torah scroll reminds us that Judaism is Torat Emet, a Torah of Truth. It is a fundamental principle of Judaism to live a life of truth and to work to discover the truth no matter how long it takes. The windows of truth and justice inspire us to live accordingly.
The last window in the sanctuary is our Shalom window.  The first and last word on Jewish life is the pursuit of peace individually and collectively. We’ve been seeking peace since time immemorial, inspired by the belief that God is the ultimate source of peace and we can seek to bring peace into our lives. Images found in the window include the hands of blessing by which the priests blessed the people, utilizing the words found in Numbers 6:24-26, culminating in the prayer, “May the Lord grant you peace”. The presence of the dove reminds us of the Noah story, when the dove finally found dry land, rest and peace after the great flood that destroyed the world. Both the dove and the rainbow are symbols of peace from the Noah story, symbolic of the peace that we believe exists between heaven and earth and between God and humanity. The symbols of fruit remind us that peace can only be found when every human being is able to enjoy enough necessities to live, including physical sustenance. The presence of the Menorah teaches us of the ancient lights of the Temple including the Ner Tamid, the Eternal Light that reminded us that our institutions, including the Temple, synagogue and home should be houses of peace for one and for all. The value of peace is cherished greatly by the Jewish people, so much so that the Talmud in Pirke Avot 1:12 teaches, “Be like Aaron who loved peace and pursued peace.” We are enjoined to do so whenever possible to bring peace to our souls as well as peace to all around us. We pray and work for the day when “the wolf will live with the lamb; the leopard lie down with the kid “(Isaiah 11:6) and “every person shall sit under his grapevine and fig tree with no one to disturb him” (Micah 4:4). The central location of the Peace window inspires us to make a life of peace and the pursuit of peace a central occupation in our lives.
Our 4th stained glass window is the window of Klal Yisrael, meaning the community of Israel and is found in the Fox Auditorium adjoining the sanctuary.  This window depicts the history of the people of Israel. The presence of the tents takes us back to Abraham and Sarah and our ancestors, who formed the Jewish people in the 19th century BCE and created our lasting community. The skyscrapers remind us that we have endured for 4 millennia continuing up to the modern day miracle of the State of Israel that has provided a contemporary national homeland for the Jewish people in the wake of the destruction of European Jewry during the Holocaust. The varying symbols remind us that we are One People comprised of a multitude of individuals and differences. Jewish life acknowledges, honors and celebrates the rich diversity found within not only our global people but within the halls of our synagogue too. We are reminded to honor and celebrate our differences; not use them as the basis of according ill-will towards each other. Our Community window inspires us to find our place within both our synagogue and universal community and to encourage others to do the same. The Torah teaches, “How goodly are your tents O Jacob, your dwelling places O Israel” (Numbers 24:5). This beautiful stained glass depiction of the ongoing historical nation of the people of Israel encourages us to build a strong peaceful community for us all!
Welcome to BTBJ! We hope you are inspired by our windows, our people, our positive spirit and our strong desire to be a blessing to the Jewish people and to all!

The stained glass windows were designed by artist David Ascalon, and fabricated by Ascalon Studios.



Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784