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Featured Windows, November 2002

Temple Beth Israel Windows

Building: Temple Beth Israel

City: Jackson

State: Michigan

These four windows on the West wall of the sanctuary at Temple Beth Israel represent good deeds, justice, peace and the Torah.

The Good Deeds Window (left) depicts two hands, containing all skin tones of humanity, reaching for each other in love, brotherhood and charity. The Hebrew letter tsadee, for tsadakah (righteousness or charity), forms the background. Above and below are the Hebrew words Gimelot Hasideem, meaning the doing of good deeds. In the Justice Window (right), all of humankind stands in equality before a balanced scales of justice, representing the Law of God. The open book is the Sefer Hayim, the Book of Life, in which, according to tradition, all people's fate is inscribed.

The Peace Window (left) teaches that peace will flow from good deeds and justice. "And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks . . ." A fist grasps the handle of a sword, but its blade is being forged into a plowshare in the eternal flame of God. The flames turn into stars, rays of hope that reach up and explode into the word Shalom, meaning peace. The flames suggest the form of a burning bush whose branches burn steadily but are never consumed - for peace must be pursued continually. In the Torah Window (right), the world rests on Torah, the Law of God. Its teachings, symbolized by the Hebrew word Emet (truth) on the open scroll, are accessible through the Bible and through all human striving toward understanding. In front of the quill and book burns the Eternal Light, representing the eternal truths of the Torah, bringing the light of wisdom and understanding to the world.

Temple Beth Israel celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1959. Designed by architect Robert Cole of Jackson, the present home of Temple Beth Israel was built in 1948. Its windows were created in 1964 by Raymond Katz and dedicated in 1966. They were a gift from the Rosenfeld family in memory of Zola Rosenfeld.

(MSGC 1998.0015)

Text by Betty MacDowell, Michigan Stained Glass Census, November , 2002.