Chicago Sinai Congregation Temple
by: chicago designslinger
[Chicago Sinai Congregation Temple (1997) Lohan Associates, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Since organizing in 1861, Chicago Sinai Congregation has worshipped in 8 different locations, starting with a brief residency on the city's north side before moving into, and building, a series structures on the south side. In 1997 when the members relocated once again, the congregation returned back to the near north side neighborhood where it all began 136 years before.
[Chicago Sinai Congregation Temple, 15 W. Delaware Place, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Sinai had followed their members as they moved from one part of the city to another and purchased a long narrow city lot near the north Michigan Avenue retail district and hovering on the southern edge of Chicago's upscale Gold Coast residential neighborhood. Given the lot's size, architect Dirk Lohan had his work cut out for him. The long, many-staired entry cutting back into the property line gave the building some visual drama and a sense of place. Otherwise the relatively small structure could have easily gotten lost among the shuffle on a tight, congested urban street corner surrounded by towering residential high-rises.
[Chicago Sinai Congregation Temple, Near North Side, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
The congregation calls their building a temple, and is sometimes referred to as a synagogue, while newspaper reporters 100 or more years ago often referred to these buildings "Jewish churches." So what exactly is the difference between a temple and a synagogue? Well, very simply put, it depends on who you ask, and what branch of Judaism the congregation worships under. Basically there are 3 different traditions in the Jewish faith, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox. Reform is the more progressive, liberally-minded sector of the faithful; the Conservatives, more conservative and traditional; and the Orthodox, the most conservative, traditional and old school. Conservative and Orthodox Jews would never call their house of worship a temple, the only Temple was in Jerusalem. The Reformers on the other hand believe that the place they choose to exercise their expression of faith, is an extension of, or equivalent to, the original Temple. Conservatives worship in a synagogue, while members of the Orthodox sects meet in shuls. So if you're not sure - what should you do? Apparently the term synagogue is relatively safe and all inclusive, though it still might rub some people the wrong way.