Sanctuary Eyes

Why do synagogue sanctuaries have windows?

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Being Transparent

Windows, being transparent, are not only ways to look out of a synagogue and transcend physical space; they are also a way into the synagogue. Synagogues often seem architecturally distant and remote. Many are large, towering structures that do not visually appear to beckon us in. But a window is always a tease in a building. Think of a walk in a nice neighborhood in the evening. Lit windows offer us a glimpse into another life that stirs mystery and curiosity. Windows are a building's intimacy.

Since windows are both ways out and in, they offer us a metaphor for transcendence. In the synagogue, we should look out, imagining that through light and nature we better appreciate God's world. When we are outside, we can bring our sanctuary eyes with us and feel blessed by God for all that our eyes take in of our majestic universe.

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Erica Brown

Dr. Erica Brown is the Director for Adult Education at The Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning and consults for The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. She is an author-winning author and the recipient of the 2009 Covenant Award. Erica has served as an adjunct professor at American University and George Washington University. She lectures on subjects of Jewish interest and leadership.