God’s Eye Techno View (Hecht Synagoue) (Mt. Scopus)

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The bunker like Mt. Scopus campus of Hebrew University, designed by Moshe Safdie is widely recognized as an architectural disaster. But the Hecht Synagogues is a little gem. To be sure, it too looks hardened and militarized.  In the inside, it’s futuristic and space-age, full of circles and light and open to the Old City situated down in the valley. To make way for the view, the arks (?) containing the Torah scrolls were moved to either side of the large picture window, which given the view was both an obvious and a peculiar design choice, obvious because of the view, but still peculiar in that the Torah has been evacuated, brushed to the side, to make room for the view. The reader’s desk seems to float. The place was built by wealthy American donors, I think in the early 1970s. On the one hand, it is like a panopticon, its gaze extending over and about the holy basin, maybe like the technological eye of God. On the other hand, what other option is there, here in this place, except to look, at the very least at a distance.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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