Stained Glass Windows and Doors

building photos 012The windows surrounding the entry doors and in the walls of the Swoff Memorial Chapel and the Zahler Social Hall reflect distinctive artistic styles. The 13 windows around each
pair of doors were designed by Beth El congregant and artist Tamar Fishman. The stained glass windows and glass panels in the chapel and social hall were created and installed by Ashkelon Studios.

The doorway into the chapel highlights the 13 Principles of the Jewish Faith, based on the Yigdal prayer. Starting at the lower right side and reading counterclockwise, the design features the first word of each principle in large letters. Beneath this Hebrew word is the initial phrase of the text, followed by the basic concept in English. The selections were chosen to be decorative and meaningful. The final design was approved by our rabbis and hazzan. The 13 principles are:

1. The existence of God
2. God’s unity
3. God’s spirituality
4. God’s eternity
5. God alone as the object of worship
6. Revelation through God’s prophets
7. The preeminence of Moses among the prophets
8. God’s law given on Mount Sinai
9. The immutability of Torah as God’s law
10. God’s foreknowledge of people’s actions
11. Retribution
12. The coming of the Messiah
13. Resurrection

The entry doors to the social hall have a matching set of 13 panels. Seven images of the traditional agricultural products of the land of Israel (Deuteronomy 8:8) alternate with six references to musical instruments in the Bible (Psalm 150). The musical notations are traditional melodies. From the lower right and moving counterclockwise are wheat, tambourine, grapes, harp, olives, trumpet, dates, shofar, pomegranates, lyre, figs, and flute. The 26 doorway windows were executed by Virginia glassmaker Kathy Wooldridge.

building photos 010The inscription on the doors of the chapel ark is a verse from Psalm 100: “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing.”

The central motif of the stained glass window to the right of the Ark is the Hebrew Shema (shin, mem, ayin). In the background are the Ten Commandments and the flames of the seven-branched menorah. The theme of the stained glass window to the left of the Ark is limud (lamed, mem, dalet), learning. The Hebrew words v’shinantam l’vanecha (“teach them diligently unto your children”) are from the first passage after the Shema. The two stained glass windows are surrounded by 12 etched glass windows representing the Jewish holidays. The six panels nearest the Ark are the major holidays. From top to bottom and left to right are Hanukkah (the festive lights), Tu B’Shevat (trees) and Purim (masks and Megillah). Next are Shabbat (lit candles), Rosh Hashanah (quill), and Yom Kippur (scales of judgment). Left of the Ark are Sukkot (sheaves of grain), Pesach (parting of the Sea of Reeds), and Shavuot (tablets of the Law). The last group is Rosh Hodesh (new moon), Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), and Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day).

The large stained glass window in the social hall depicts old Jerusalem and modern Israel, highlighted by the word “Shalom.” On the right an arch represents the Hurvah synagogue, destroyed in 1948 (and recently rebuilt), and an evocation of the Shrine of the Book.

We hope this “guided tour” of our windows will enhance your experience whenever you are present in our beautiful chapel and social hall.


Taken from the January 2013 issue of the Scroll.