Chapel Ark for the Eli M. Black Lifelong Learning Center
Park Avenue Synagogue
New York City, NY

Each piece of synagogue furniture in this chapel has been created both to harmonize with the space and to have symbolic significance. The ark features handles in the form of an abstract letter lamed, the first letter of the Hebrew words meaning “to learn” and “to teach.” The lamed is meant to evoke the concept that by opening the ark, one opens oneself to study and understanding. The gold leaf interior of the ark is designed to remind us of the gold cladding of the ark of the tabernacle, while the rich blue interior represents the sky and the sea.

A blue window in the ark door reveals the ner tamid, and is inspired by a midrash that describes the eternal light as made from the same sapphire that formed the window in Noah’s Ark. The ark, lectern, and torah reading table incorporate decorative grilles whose pattern is derived from motifs on the Park Avenue Synagogue’s main sanctuary built in 1927.