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Temple's facade to tell ancient tale

Published Aug. 24, 2005

For years, nothing special drew the eye to the small, Orthodox synagogue at 2000 W Swann Ave. The unassuming white facade of Temple David was easy to miss.

But the building may attract more attention in the future.

After nearly closing its doors following the death of founder Rabbi Samuel Mallinger in 1997, Temple David has a new look.

A $2.7-million remodeling project, which began a year ago, features an extensive mosaic at the entrance to the building. The mural, to be completed this month, depicts scenes from the Book of Exodus, including the pyramids of Egypt, the burning bush, the song of Miriam, the Ten Commandments and the journey to the Promised Land.

Artists Sally Miller and Mark Erickson worked on the piece in their studio for about a year, and are installing it. The duo met Dr. David Kalin, president of Temple David, at an art show last year. Although they had no prior connection to the synagogue, they agreed to compose the mosaic as a gift.

Rabbi Lazer Rivkin, who took over Temple David in 1997, described Miller and Erickson as "artists who seek to enhance the beauty of all spiritual things" and called them honorary members of the synagogue.

The mosaic is part of a larger remodeling project, which will include a Judean desert garden in front of the mosaic, a peace garden on the side of the temple, retiling the interior floors, the creation of a mosaic inside the sanctuary and the expansion of the Judaic library and video center.

The intention of the remodeling, Rivkin said, "is to make the building itself an educational message and center for the people of Hyde Park and the surrounding area."

Rivkin hopes that the entire renovation will be completed by summer 2006. So far, the synagogue has raised more than $818,000 through gifts from a variety of organizations, individuals and members. Many of the materials for the mosaic were donated by local marble and tile businesses.

Upon completion of the mosaic, Miller and Erickson will assist with design of the peace garden, and have been invited to work on the temple's interior.

For more information, contact Rivkin or Kalin at 966-8770.