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Is There a Jewish Architecture?

Thursday, June 16, 2022 17 Sivan 5782

6:00 PM - 7:30 PMHybrid: In person (B'nai Havurah) and on Zoom

When the Jews were wandering in the wilderness, God instructed Moses regarding the construction of the Tabernacle and its Holy of Holies. These instructions always struck me as curious. Why all the detail on how to construct the Tabernacle and its contents? 

Before God’s instructions for the Tabernacle, Noah was instructed in the exact measurements of the ark (roughly the size of an aircraft carrier).  

Curiously, these instructions include dimensions, materials and construction, but not what the thing itself would look like as the result of following God’s instructions. The fabric itself is what matters. 

By contrast, Plato suggested that materials, whatever they are, are only the means for conveying the ideal form of an altar. Wood, stone, painted, plain – it’s an altar. Designers and craftsmen should aspire to the ideal form of “altar.” 

In my talk, we will see at how these two ways of seeing forms—the Hebraic and the Hellenic--are contrasted in Solomon’s Temple and the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. Then we will use these different ways of designing to look at modern architecture: Wright’s Falling Waters, Meier’s Getty Museum in Santa Monica, and Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. 

This talk will provide a way of looking at architecture, and it will help answer the question. Is there a Jewish architecture?  

PLEASE REGISTER BELOW: Under notes please indicate if you will be joining us in person or by zoom.



Allan Wallis, Ph.D., is a member of B’nai Havurah. He has taught architecture at the Cooper Union, Pratt Institute, Ball State University, and the University of Colorado, Boulder. 




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Thu, May 26 2022 25 Iyar 5782