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Has been called an architectural masterpiece.
Quoted from Wikipedia:
Gates of the Grove (Shaarey Pardes), the sanctuary of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons, is a synagogue designed by noted architect Norman Jaffe and built in East Hampton, New York in 1989. It has been called a masterpiece.
The cedar shingled synagogue won the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture excellence in design award. Jaffe called on Kabbalistic symbolism, the famed light of the Hamptons, and local vernacular traditions to create a contemporary religious space that uses architecture to shape spiritual experience. New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger described it as “a building that is at once a gentle tent and a powerful monument, at once a civic presence that celebrates community and a place of quiet meditation that honors solitude.
The Jewish Center of the Hamptons (JCOH) was founded in 1959 when 23 individuals living in the East Hampton area began meeting for services in their own homes. As the congregation grew and migrated to various borrowed facilities, the need for their own permanent facility became clear. Land was acquired and, largely through the efforts of local financier Evan Frankel, funds were raised to construct a facility.
In 1983, Frankel he met with Jaffe to discuss the project. Jaffe eagerly pursued the commission and, although he encountered some resistance from the board of directors, he eventually was chosen to design the new sanctuary when he offered his services pro bono.
Jaffe initially imagined Gates of the Grove as a tent in the woods — an elemental structure consisting of little more than a canopy roof. He quickly realized that he would need to adapt this vision to the needs of the congregation and the board and looked to wooden synagogues of Eastern Europe for inspiration. His final design, approved in 1984, continued the east—west longitudinal axis of the existing structure on the property via a new volume attached to its west end. Despite the complexity of his solution, he’d managed to preserve the essence of the original idea—the luminescent feeling of a tent softly lit by the sun east—through an array of bent porticos separated by skylights.
Jaffe made many design decisions on site. He also engaged tradespeople and encouraged them to contribute to the creative development of the project. Randy Rosenthal, a painter and carpenter, co—designed and hand—carved extensive wood detailing, including the doors.[ Dennis Lawrence, a woodworker, developed a unique hinge for the ark.
At completion, expenses totaled nearly $2 million. The building was dedicated in 1987. New York Attorney General Robert Abrams presided over the ceremony, attended by four hundred people. Members of the local government and clergy attended as a gesture of public support. East Hampton Town Supervisor Judith Hope later featured Evan Frankel in her column in the East Hampton Star, writing, “By his personal example he proved that sensitive development, development that respected the delicate integrity of nature, was viable.”
Though JCOH once again uses tents for holiday services—the congregation is now 500 families—the facility remains largely as Jaffe had intended. Gates of the Grove continues to hold weekly Shabbat services year—round. In the off—season (fall, winter, and spring) attendance dwindles to from 100 to 200 people on any given week. During the peak of summer, this figure can easily double. Nevertheless, a dedicated year—round staff supports the center’s operations with the assistance of a few seasonal employees during busy months.
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