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Two New Arks Adorn Suburban Shuls

June 1, 2006 By:
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A carpenter from Harrisburg custom-built the ark for Chabad of Chester County; and, below, a new ark beautifies the General Wayne Inn.
Two area synagogues have welcomed new additions to their bimahs, which amount to new homes for their Torahs.

Chabad Lubavitch of Chester County: Jewish Center last week dedicated a brand-new, custom-built aron kodesh, or holy ark, to house its three Torahs.

Similarly, a new ark has just been installed at Lubavitch of the Main Line's new building at the General Wayne Inn in Merion.

According to Chester County's Rabbi Yossi Kaplan, the ark was custom-built for the synagogue and donated by Kaplan's father in honor of his father, the rabbi's grandfather.

Kaplan said that the new ark, measuring 8 feet by 12 feet, can house up to six Torahs. In fact, the congregation plans to begin writing a new Torah in January.

"It changes the look of the synagogue," affirmed Kaplan. "It makes it a synagogue - you put in an aron kodesh, and it becomes a new building."

As for the structure at Lubavitch of the Main Line, it was designed and assembled by an artist in Israel and shipped to the United States in pieces that filled about 10 crates.

According to Rabbi Shraga Sherman, the ark is built of Jerusalem stone, can hold up to five Torahs, and was donated by two supporters of the group.

He added that there has been no formal dedication to date, but he expects to hold one when the congregation officially dedicates its new home in the fall.

"It's stunning and breath-taking and appropriate," said Sherman, "that the focal point of the multipurpose room, and the entire building for that matter, is the ark which houses the Torah scrolls, as they truly are the heart of the Jewish people."

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