Gilchrest Chapel Inspiration
by Jay Brown, AIA, Levin/Brown and Associates
The impetus for our design is based on the writings of Rabbi Alvin Fine who states that “Birth is a beginning and death a destination but life is a journey, a sacred pilgrimage made stage by stage to life everlasting.”
The Ner Tamid or the Eternal Light in the center of the room at the skylight represents the presence of God as described in Exodus chapter 25:8 “let them build me a sanctuary that I may dwell therein.”
The journey of life is represented by the irregular progression of the stone wall both horizontally and vertically. The journey begins in the world outside and progresses inward where the journey continues thru the ups and downs of life’s encounters. The vertical changes in the wall texture represent the journey from birth through life to passing as our Nishama, our soul, crosses over and remains in the presence of God everlasting completing the cycle so eloquently described by Rabbi Fine.
The Jerusalem stone, quarried in Israel, is a physical and spiritual representation in both style and texture of the Western Wall at the Temple Mount in the heart of Jerusalem. It reminds us of the eternal connection of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel. As at the Western Wall we allow those interested to leave messages in the spaces between the stones.
The Chapel interior also tells the story of creation. Beginning with God’s presence over all dominion. The skylight represents the separation of day and night as described in the 1st day of creation. The living wall is representative of the creation of the both sustenance and life which is nurtured by the sun from the sky and the flowing waters. Water, which is an essential component of all life flows continuously.