Stained-glass pieces enhance area synagogue

Published on Friday, 6 December 2013 23:35 - Written by KELLY GOOCH kgooch@tylerpaper.com

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The stained glass windows at Ahavath Achim Synagogue showcase aspects of the Jewish faith in myriad colors and a wide variety of images.

The eight windows, which are dedicated in memory of former synagogue members, depict the Messianic Era, Shabbat, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Pesach (or Passover), Shavuot and Havdalah.

Originally in the old synagogue building at West Houston Street and Glenwood Boulevard, they were moved to the current synagogue on Donnybrook Avenue in the 1980s, member Barbara Zimmerman said.

Ms. Zimmerman could not pinpoint exactly when the stained glass was done but said it was sometime after 1961.

She said the window that depicts the Messianic Era is about the Messiah’s coming, while the window that depicts Shabbat, or the Jewish Sabbath, includes traditional Shabbat elements such as two candles, two loaves of challah bread and wine.

Near those windows is the window for Yom Kippur. During the Yom Kippur holiday, Ms. Zimmerman said Jewish people go to the synagogue, they fast and ask God to forgive sins they have committed against Him.

Sukkot and Simchat Torah also are depicted in stained glass windows.

Ms. Zimmerman said Sukkot takes place in the fall. She said temporary dwellings are created at homes, and a temporary dwelling is created at the synagogue as well.

“A lot of people will … build maybe something with 2-by-4s and put branches across the top, maybe sides on it, maybe not, and decorate it, so it’s really just temporary,” she said.

Ms. Zimmerman said Simchat Torah involves rejoicing for the Torah.

“It’s a celebration,” she said. “We carry Torahs through the synagogue and dance and sing songs. It’s just a joyous celebration.”

Other stained glass windows in the synagogue are for Pesach, or Passover, Shavuot and Havdalah.

Ms. Zimmerman said Pesach, which takes place in the spring, is about when Jewish people left Egypt, and Shavuot is about the giving of the Torah.

As for Havdalah, it involves lighting a candle at the end of Shabbat and occurs on a Saturday, she said.

Ms. Zimmerman said the stained glass windows are not necessarily a big conversation piece among members, but are lovely and beautiful.

“It’s nice to know that people cared enough to give something so beautiful to the synagogue in memory of their family members,” she said.

“These were all people who were very significant in the synagogue and some in the community, and I just think it’s nice that they care to give beautiful gifts that lasted,” she added.

Synagogue member Steve Roosth, who was a child when the stained glass windows were originally installed, echoed Ms. Zimmerman.

“They’re very pretty, especially when the sun hits them,” he said.