Before long, Louisville's only Orthodox synagogue was involved in a full-scale renovation campaign.As it commemorates the first full day of the Jewish New Year today, Congregation Anshei Sfard will celebrate the completion of its renovations by rededicating a large stained-glass window that was dismantled, restored and, earlier this week, returned to its spot in the synagogue's main sanctuary.The 20-by-15-foot window depicts the traditional Jewish symbol of a candelabra, a "symbol of the light of God spreading to the outside and spreading to the whole world," Rabbi Avrohom Litvin said.
The candelabra is surrounded by a snake, which alludes to a biblical story in which Moses raised a statue of a snake in the desert so that Israelites who were bitten by snakes and who looked at the statue could be healed. This reflects the concept that "that even the snake can bring healing when God so ordains, so everything that comes from God is in essence a blessing," Litvin said.
The window is the most spectacular part of a renovation project but hardly the only one for Anshei Sfard, which has nearly 200 families.
The synagogue also acquired new carpeting and new covers for Torah scrolls and the bima, the table from which the Torah (Jewish law) is read during worship services.
Celebrating the new beginnings symbolized by the renovation is an appropriate New Year activity, Litvin said. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, officially began at sundown last night.
"On the Rosh Hashana morning, the day of the new year, our prayers beseech that God send his vitality and blessing to the new year once again," Litvin said. "So it's a very spiritual time in which we ask God to send a year of blessing and peace and caring and brotherhood to the world."