The last few months of 2016 were challenging for residents of Outremont. To limit new places of worship -- including churches, synagogues and mosques -- on commercial arteries, a Nov. 20, 2016 referendum created a contentious situation of neighbour against neighbour.
With a YES (to approve the bylaw) win of 1,561 to 1,202, supporters of the bylaw saw themselves subsequently vilified by a few columnists in newspapers, while Hassidic leadership claimed the ban on new places of worship was evidence of residents targeting them, "... because they are afraid. And they are afraid because we are different."
As the person responsible for heading up online campaign efforts for the YES campaign, I can assure readers that we are certainly not afraid of diversity and that YES efforts were, as claimed, to maintain a healthy balance of secular and non-secular activity on Bernard Ave., and that a 10,000-square-foot synagogue at the corner of Bernard and Champagneur Avenues, together with the potential increase in new places of worship on the Avenue, could be a tipping point toward non-secular activity that could threaten the long-term, future commercial viability of Bernard merchants.
The YES campaign was and is entirely in support in seeking a solution that would allow places of worship in Outremont while limiting the number of churches, mosques, synagogues and temples on commercial streets to those already in existence.
A viable solution?
After attending the Dec. 5, 2016 Outremont council meeting, I am encouraged and cautiously optimistic to hear that zone C6 -- near the new University of Montreal campus -- is under consideration as an innovative and creative solution for new places of worship in Outremont.
Over the past weeks, I have had a chance to learn more about the project as well as to visit the site, just north of Van Horne, intersecting with Hutchison. It is hopeful to report that the sector is well within walking distance for the Hassidic families and that for many families on Hutchison and Durocher, the C6 zone is closer to them than the proposed 10,000-square-foot synagogue on Bernard and Champagneur. Moreover, any new places of worship for the Hassidic community in C6 will complement Talmud Tovah Belz, a Jewish Hasidic school and day nursery already existing on Durocher Ave.
A LEED project in the heart of Montreal
According to a Nov. 21, 2016 press release from Université de Montréal, "Beyond its university vocation, this campus opened to the surrounding community will become a genuine crossroads of creation and exchange. It will include residential projects, multi-purpose businesses, and public spaces, open to the public and community and cultural organizations in surrounding neighbourhoods.
In this intellectually, interactively and creatively challenging environment, the MIL campus is expected to become a vibrant and diverse community where researchers, students, creators, residents and business people will meet to shape tomorrow's society."
With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recent visit to the sector, (announcing millions of dollars in additional funding for the project), I trust we can agree that this exciting, revitalized Outremont sector will be a once-in-a-generation and cutting-edge opportunity; breaking new ground in regards to education, commercial, cultural and religious diversity. We can be proud of the Borough of Outremont for exploring the possibility of opening up the exceptional project as a reasonable solution to moving new places of worship off commercial arteries.
I am hopeful 2017 will provide further opportunities for Outremont residents to work together and toward solutions, in and with a renewed spirit of cooperation.
Vivre ensemble, Outremont.
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At the Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., Edward Jacobs designed the entire eastern wall of the sanctuary as a sculptural mural, representing the theme of Sinaitic revelation. The Ark is opened in a rather unconventional manner: The stone suspended to the right of the Ark is pulled down, causing the bottom half of the Parochet/Ark Cover to rise. Site: Hampton Synagogue Address: 154 Sunset Ave, Westhampton Beach NY 11978 Web: http://www.thehamptonsynagogue.org Date of Completion: 1994 Architectural Design: Edward Jacobs Project Architect: Nicholas Vero and Peter Tokar Interior Design: Edward Jacobs
In designing the sanctuary for North Shore Hebrew Academy High School in Great Neck, N.Y., Edward Jacobs was following the message of Psalms 92:14: “Planted in the House of God In the courtyards they shall flourish.” The verse paints a picturesque scene of trees blossoming in the environs of the House of God, and the aromatic fruits of the trees planted by the children filled the air on the Temple grounds. This sets the thematic tone for the entire institution, a religious high school, dedicated to both secular and Jewish studies. The eastern wall of the sanctuary pictured is centered around the 11x32 foot Ark Doors. The decorative covering of the Ark Doors matches the reed-like natural motif of the other sanctuary elements. Site: North Shore Hebrew Academy High School Address: 400 North Service Road,Great Neck, NY 11020 Web: http://nshahs.org/ Date of Completion: 2008 Project Architect: Spector Group Architects Sanctuary Design, Judaic and Donor Recognition Design: Edward Jacobs
The 18 window elements surrounding the sanctuary at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School in Great Neck, N.Y., are not classic “stained-glass” windows comprised of hundreds of small individual pieces of glass, sanctuary designer Edward Jacobs says. Rather, each window is a composition of 6-18 large plates of glass, each one painstakingly painted, tripled-layered and fired in large kilns to produce the desired effect. The panes were then suspended in three-dimensional relief on custom steel frames creating a dazzling effect of color, light and depth. The project was completed in 2008.
Surrounding the Ark at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School in Great Neck, N.Y., and in fact, the entire sanctuary, are 18 monumental window elements. The front eight windows of the synagogue measure four feet wide by 12 feet high. Sanctuary designer Edward Jacobs says all panels were inspired by God’s creative activity occurring during the period of the world’s creation.
The dominant theme of the Ark at Lev Efrat Synagogue, which Edward Jacobs designed in 2011 for the synagogue in Efrat, Gush Etzion, Israel, is one of an abstract “Tree of Life” -- a powerful and broad-based metaphor in Judaism. Set in an asymmetrical pattern, the cut-outs allow for glimpses of the interior curtain. Site: Lev Efrat Synagogue Address: Efrat, Gush Etzion, Israel Date of Completion: 2011 Sanctuary Design, Judaica and Donor Recognition Design: Edward Jacobs
The interior Curtain of the Ark at Lev Efrat Synagogue, which Edward Jacobs designed in 2011 for the synagogue in Efrat, Gush Etzion, Israel, continues the theme of the outer doors but expands into the realm of creation and notion of history and remembrance in the Jewish tradition.
Finally, the interior of the Ark at Lev Efrat Synagogue, which Edward Jacobs designed in 2011 for the synagogue in Efrat, Gush Etzion, Israel, becomes the realization of the verse from Proverbs 3:18: “It is a Tree of Life for all who grasp it…” Each Torah Scroll, supported within its own cradle, each facing a different direction, is floating within the innermost section of the Ark. The base of the Ark contain mementos of the contents of the original Ark the Jews carried with them on their desert sojourn.
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