Upon entering the beautifully restored sanctuary at the Museum at Eldridge Street, visitors are transported back to the height of the synagogue’s glory. Built in 1887 during the rise of Jewish immigration to the Lower East Side and restored in the 1980’s after a period of neglect and disrepair, the building is a perfect reflection of the past, present, and future of this historic neighborhood. Today, the synagogue’s sanctuary is covered from floor to ceiling in painted patterns and sparkling ornamentations, all twinkling in the shafts of light that emanate from the Museum’s newest and most distinctive feature: the exquisite stained-glass window designed by artist Kiki Smith and architect Deborah Gans. While the restoration of the sanctuary remained faithful to historical accounts of the synagogue’s 19th-century interior, the new window is an intentional departure from the past. It represents a bright and colorful future for both the Museum and the neighborhood.
This post is written by Summer 2021 intern Emma Thibodeaux-Thompson. Working this summer in the Museum’s sanctuary, one of the most common reactions I hear when visitors first enter the space is: “Huh, it looks like a church?” I always tell visitors that they’re right … Read more