A Village Center

The transformation of three underutilized office buildings creates a vibrant spiritual home for a Reform congregation

B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim (BJBE) Synagogue

Deerfield, IL

For BJBE’s new synagogue, the Rabbi envisioned community life revolving around a “village center” where all would feel welcome. This centrally located, light-filled space is visually connected and provides access to the sanctuary, social hall, administration, chapel, contemplation room and early learning center. The four worship spaces can accommodate from 10 to 1,200. The re-use of as much of the existing buildings as possible combined with a sustainable approach to building controls, the use of natural daylight and healthy materials honor the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam. Close collaboration between Finegold Alexander, BJBE clergy and congregation—as well as the general contractor, consulting engineers, and artists—are hallmarks of this new spiritual home.

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71,380 SF
Renovation, Addition, Adaptive Reuse
Central Gathering, Worship Spaces, Social Hall, Early Learning Center, Administration, Jewish Learning Center
2012 Merit Award from Chicago Building Congress
2018 Faith and Form, Interfaith Design Award
2011 IESNA, Achievement Award in Lighting Design
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"Working with you was one of the greatest privileges of my life. I learned so much from all of you. We created a truly sacred space, where pockets of holiness manifest throughout."
Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar, Senior Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim

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The design collaboration shaped not only the building, but also the liturgical elements—including the Ner Tamid for the sanctuary. Inscribed within the metal flames is “L’Dor V’Dor.” This welcoming new home for a thriving congregation ensures the continued passing of culture and knowledge to future generations.

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“It’s not just about the adaptive reuse of an office park; it’s also about the emerging sense of how worship is both contemplative and interactive.”
Moe Finegold, FAIA, Principal, Finegold Alexander