Stained Glass Panels
Original design, 1887; restored, 1986-2007
Leaded stained glass with modern additions
Window shown: 88 inches x 54 inches; dimensions of other windows vary
Stained glass is a classically sacred element that gives the
sanctuary a grand and holy atmosphere. Light streams in, filtered
through the colored panels, but congregants are not able to see outside.
For a synagogue in the middle of the hectic, crowded Lower East Side,
this would have been essential in cultivating a sense of sanctuary and a
readiness for prayer.
The 67 stained glass panels in the sanctuary are arrayed in sets:
rectangular windows along the sides of the sanctuary; arched windows
around the balcony and in the stairwells; keyhole windows across the
façade; and roundels in the vestibule. Their design consists solely of
Stars of David and layered, intersecting circles, punctuated by thick
cast-glass “jewels.” Although the pattern for all windows in each set is
identical, artisans alternated the colors in each panel to achieve a
remarkably varied but unified effect.
Restorers were able to find and reuse eighty percent of the original
colored shapes, replacing the balance with similar glass. Each panel was
removed, a rubbing of its design was made, glass was cleaned, replaced
and releaded, so that visitors today may experience the effect of the windows as congregants did when they entered the sanctuary for the first time in 1887.