With a desire to consolidate resources, strengthen community involvement and re-invigorate the congregation, Beth El Congregation sold their former facilities of over sixty years and relocated to the facilities shared with the Akron Shaw Jewish Community Center. Located at the “front door” of the JCC, the new chapel would serve to symbolize this mission. The chapel was designed to represent the new beginnings of the congregation with the modern aesthetic and, conversely, incorporates important artifacts of the past. The design prominently incorporates large-scale mosaic art by noted local artist, Bonnie Cohen, and is the successful result of a close collaboration between the design team, owner and constructor.
Taking advantage of an under-utilized area adjacent to the JCC main entrance, the addition was positioned take advantage of its prominent location. It was important that Beth El Congregation be highly visible to the community yet provide direct connectivity to the JCC. The focal point of the building exterior is the remarkable stained-glass window. It was methodically removed from the previous building, restored by the original artist and installed on the south-facing sandstone masonry façade. On the interior, the focal point is the “Pillar of Light” ark and mosaic art installation. Above the ark is a skylight, washing light upon the ark during the daytime and cleverly concealing accent lighting for use at nighttime. The synagogue is connected to the JCC with a separate entrance and community room generating a unique synergy that has been “electrifying for the congregation,” according to past president Andrea Steinberger.