Congregation Mishkan Israel, Hamden, Connecticut

Founded in 1840, Congregation Mishkan Israel is the oldest Jewish congregation in Connecticut. The Congregation’s current building, which includes a religious school, was designed by Fritz Nathan and Bertram Bassuk in the Modernist style and completed in 1960. The main sanctuary includes an extraordinary ark designed by Ben Shahn, which represents the Ten Commandments in mosaic tile, reminiscent of an illuminated manuscript. Adjoining the ark on both sides are abstracted twenty-five foot high stained glass windows containing shards of blue and purple hues and the names of twelve prophets—six historical and six modern. Since its founding, the Congregation has been committed to serving the community with its liberal religious thought and social activism—especially in the struggle for Civil Rights.

Congregation Beth Israel, Bangor, Maine

Officially organized in 1888, Congregation Beth Israel is the oldest continually functioning synagogue in the state of Maine. After the first synagogue was tragically destroyed in a fire that swept through Bangor in 1911, Congregation Beth Israel constructed its current house of prayer using steel and reinforced concrete. Dedicated in 1912, the building designed with a Byzantine Romanesque architectural influence reflects the ambiance of Asia Minor, the area the congregation felt was the origins of Judaism. However, physical alterations to the sanctuary metaphorically reflect the congregations’ continued wishes to merge traditional Jewish practice with modern ideas in ways designed to enrich traditional observance.