New acoustical tiles and fresh paint improved sound in the sanctuary.
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26 April 17 • 2014
Beth Shalom's congregants help
with synagogue renovations.
fter completion of a
$200,000 renovation, the
Congregation Beth Shalom
sanctuary reopened on March 29 at
Shabbat services with more than 300
people in attendance. The service was
highlighted by the bar mitzvah of Max
Goldstein, son of Nancy and Avery
Goldstein of Huntington Woods.
Renovations to the Oak Park syna-
gogue include a new "floating" acousti-
cal ceiling, energy-saving insulation
and fresh paint in the sanctuary, a
rebuild of the air conditioning com-
pressor and a new lobby HVAC unit.
"This was the biggest renovation
since we built the school wing, remod-
eled the social hall and built a new
entrance about 16 years ago:' said
Building Committee chair Allen Wolf.
Wolf, who retired from Ford Motor
Company at the end of 2008, leads a
Beth Shalom volunteer effort called
Mitzvah Man. He and his team per-
form handyman services for congre-
gants, and instead of paying them, the
homeowners are asked to make an
equivalent donation to the congrega-
tion. Since it started in 2011, the proj-
ect has raised nearly $30,000 for Beth
"We are very excited about the
changes to the sanctuary:' said Rabbi
Robert Gamer. "For years, people
complained about the acoustics:' The
synagogue installed acoustical tiles
that absorb 85 percent of the sound
waves, thereby reducing the echo and
making it easier to understand spoken
words and improving the enjoyment
The renovations took nearly two
months. Wolf served as the volunteer
general contractor. "We had amaz-
ing participation by the congregation
in supporting the project with their
money and their time:'
About $140,000 in synagogue bond
sales and cash donations supple-
mented the Building Fund to pay for
the renovations. About 30 members
got down on their hands and knees to
remove and reinstall the pews.
Congregant Allen Wolf on the job
Congregants Mechelle Bernard and
Jeff Salz reinstall pews.
"Everyone wanted to have the sanc-
tuary ready for Max's bar mitzvah:'
Wolf said. Because of delays in com-
pleting some phases of the project,
the pews could not be reinstalled until
Friday morning, March 28. More than
25 volunteers showed up, some as
early as 5 a.m., to get to work. The job
was finished at 7 p.m., just 35 minutes
before Shabbat began.
"The renovation was really needed.
The old ceiling was cracking and
showing its 60 years of service said
Marie Slotnick, Beth Shalom president.
"We have been steadily adding new
members over the past year. Many of
them are families with young children
who live in walking distance of our
synagogue. I think the modern look of
the remodeled sanctuary reflects our
renewed vitality as a growing, youth-
oriented congregation:' ❑