Bricks, Mortar & Colored Glass Will Greet High Holiday Worshippers At Clark Temple

CLARK—Temple Beth O’r/Beth Torah in Clark will have a new look in time for this year’s high holidays.

In 1958, the Clark Jewish community founded Temple Beth O’r, and designed and constructed a synagogue on Valley Road. Hosting prayer services, adult education classes, speakers, movies, cultural events, and in the midst of reinvigorating its youth religious school, for the past 55 years Temple Beth O’r has served thousands of Union County residents.

This summer, congregants from the Temple, which in 1992 joined forces with Temple Beth Torah in Rahway, have requisitioned the services of an award winning stained glass artisan to design and fabricate a new Eastern Wall for the Temple. The wall is currently in the final stages of construction and is scheduled for completion for the Jewish New Year and day of Atonement services this coming September.

President Howard Silverman, recently inaugurated as the temple’s newest board leader explained a bit more behind the project. “About a year ago, a donor family came forward and said they wanted to dedicate something of great meaning to the Temple in honor of their parents. We pray daily in our sanctuary and naturally wanted to consider improving the spiritual environment of that special room. We put together a special Bimah Wall Committee and the rest will be history. Our House Chairman assiduously searched for an artist who could creatively fabricate a series of themes from our heritage that we could see and touch on a daily basis. With his recommendation the committee chose Ascalon Studios.”

Martin Richstein serves as the aforementioned house chairman and after working with a committee on the choice of artist and the design and logistics of the project is overseeing the construction phase of the wall. “We chose Ascalon Studios from West Berlin, NJ, who with our guidance, developed a design which features a lower half Jerusalem stone covered wall and an upper half of stained glass mounted inside of clear frosted insulating glass. We chose Jerusalem Stone to represent our ties to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and breathtaking stained glass with themes depicting our thriving Beth O’r and Beth Torah communities and include our major Jewish Holidays.”

Ascalon Studios was founded by the Hungarian-born master sculptor and industrial designer Maurice Ascalon (1913-2003); together with his son David Ascalon (b.1945), an architecture and design graduate of New York’s Pratt Institute. Throughout the 1970s, Ascalon worked in the fields of interior design and architecture in New York, and for the firm of the noted Israeli architect Arieh Elhanani in Tel Aviv. Seeking a more immediate means of artistic expression than the architectural arts would allow, he began experimenting in sculptural metalwork, exploring abstract compositions with a welding torch. Through the ensuing decades, the talented in-house designers and artisans of the firm have adorned hundreds of institutional environments, houses of worship, and public spaces through North America.

Cantor Steven Stern serves as the Spiritual Leader of the Clark congregation, and is pleased with the forthcoming improvement, “The stained glass windows depict the joining together of light and Torah, which represent the congregations of Beth O’r and Beth Torah, and our forming one community to live vibrant and passionate Jewish lives throughout the yearly cycle of holy days. And the inscription engraved in the Jerusalem stone below the windows reflects the biblical assertion that when we build a sanctuary for inspirational prayer, God’s presence dwells in our midst.”

Richstein and Stern are making plans for a formal ribbon cutting ceremony officially recognizing the completion of the wall. The event is being planned for mid-Autumn, and the public will be invited.

For more information on Temple Beth O’r/Beth Torah, its programs, events, prayer services, etc., check out the Synagogue’s website at, or call the office at 1-732-381-8403. Tickets to the High Holidays for unaffiliated worshippers are still available by calling the office number.

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