A Sanctuary in the Woods

At once majestic and intimate, the new synagogue fosters community for a newly-merged congregation

Temple Beth Tzedek

Amherst, New York

Temple Beth Tzedek is a 500-family Jewish congregation with roots dated back to Buffalo's first synagogue, Temple Beth El, founded in 1847. The Rabbi and members of the congregation wanted a “sanctuary in the woods,” a request that was complicated by existing wetlands and the need for tree conservation. The design features an all-wood structure that hearkens back to the historic wooden synagogues of Poland. Oriented on site to take advantage of views to the woods and defined by a floor-to-ceiling glass wall facing East, the sanctuary provides for calming views, abundant natural daylight, and a contemplative home for the merged congregation.

(Photo credit: All photos of Temple Beth Tzedek are Copyright 2018 James Cavanaugh)

Share via
10,000 SF
New Construction
Central Gathering, Worship Space, Administration
2019 Buffalo Business First, Brick by Brick Award
In the news
Project EUI
No items found.
“… the new building is filled with light, emphasizes human connections with the natural world, and interprets Jewish practices in a contemporary way…”
Prof. Edward Steinfeld, director of the University at Buffalo’s Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access

No items found.

Five monumental wood arches provide the sanctuary’s structure. It took just one day to erect the custom glulam arches, manufactured locally by Unalam. Prior to erection, the glulam arches were laid out carefully on the site, according to the order of assembly.

No items found.
“Our new sanctuary is such a great place for worship. There is both an intimacy and feeling of togetherness, but also a feeling of the presence of God because of the majesty of the space and the connection to nature.”
Harvey P. Sanders, Project Chair, Temple Beth Tzedek