Adas Israel Congregation, home of the legendary Shir Delight Young Professional’s Shabbat service (averaging roughly 300 YPs per Shabbat!), announces the imminent launch of an exciting renovation and modernization project for its landmark building in Cleveland Park – all part of a wider “Vision of Renewal” initiative to bring Adas even further into the 21st century. At the heart of the renewal is the creation of MakomDC (Place DC).
“MakomDC is one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever worked on – it’s basically a ‘Jewish Politics and Prose!’” says Adas Israel Senior Rabbi Gil Steinlauf. “It will feature comfortable seating and tables for lively discussion, books and technology, coffee and snacks, speaker jams, art, engaging sessions, and even interactive prayer services. It will be the place where people, ideas, and Jewish experiences collide.”
The heroic architectural design for the new structure includes a complete overhaul of four worship and gathering spaces within the current 2850 Quebec Street address. There will be new light-filled spaces used for worship, meals, celebrations, school programs, classes, meetings and other happenings. Also, an expanded, super-modern entrance foyer will provide an open area to gather and will lead directly to MakomDC, the new and unique space at the heart of the building to serve as a bustling learning and engagement center for the 21st century.
The Charles E. Smith Sanctuary (also known as the Beit Tefillah, or House of Prayer) is the building’s largest worship space. It will sport a more intimate seating arrangement, a stunning sculptured eastern wall, and a large circular skylight that will saturate the worship space with natural light, consistent with Jewish tradition.
“The landscape of Jewish life is changing rapidly and Adas sits at the crossroads,” says Rabbi Steinlauf. “With this renovation, we are poised to engage Jews from many different backgrounds and ages, and create an exhilarating, immersive opportunity for DC-area Jews to find true, personal spirituality for the modern world.”
Founded in 1869 by a group of European immigrants, Adas has been at its landmark location, one block east of the Cleveland Park Metro, since 1951. The building has played host to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and, more recently, the Dalai Lama. So it’s no small fry. However, the Jewish world (in particular, the young Jewish world) is evolving and so the congregation and its historic building must as well.
The Adas clergy and leadership worked closely with renowned architect Hugh Hardy and H3 Collaboration Architecture, who recently completed a reinvention of the Lincoln Center Theater in New York. Construction at Adas will take place in three phases over the next year to allow continuation of all synagogue activities in the building.
The Opening Ceremony, scheduled for some time before the High Holidays next year, is sure to feature musical presentations, food, booze, and schmoozing! And the word on the street is that it’s all going to be free for YPs, so follow all the latest developments at www.adasisrael.org or on facebook.com/adasisraeldc.