History or comments
An internationally acclaimed architectural design.
In a state where there have been Jewish congregations for nearly 200 years, Congregation Bet Ha’am (House of the People) is a newcomer. Formed in 1985, the Congregation developed as a grassroots organization, open to creativity and innovation. Interfaith couples and progressive Jews not quite comfortable with the environment of more traditional congregations formed the founding core of the community. Initially, the Congregation moved among various locations until renting the former Sawyer Elementary School from the City of South Portland in 1984. That was the Congregation’s home until it outgrew the building.
Congregation Bet Ha’am decided to buy the old brick schoolhouse to use for religious classrooms and build a new 13,000 sanctuary, social hall and administrative structure. Architects Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe of Toronto, Canada were engaged to design the project. Construction began in 2008 and the temple was completed in 2009. The building is as practical as it is beautiful. Flexible interior partitions along with a moveable ark and moveable bimah make it possible to configure the space for small services or groups up to 700 people.
The Temple’s innovative design reflects the dynamic spirit that lead to the founding of Congregation Bet Ha’am. The building has enjoyed international acclaim for it’s architecture.