I have attended many Shabbat and holiday services in synagogues, some have been architectural wonders, like the synagogue in Savannah, Georgia, Mickve Israel, pictured above (photo taken by me a few years ago).
The exterior is grand in appearance, much like the interior, which houses an old Torah brought over on a ship, and other antiquities from the 18th century. Do not get me wrong, I loved the interior, with all of its flourishes, opulence, columns, vaulted ceilings, etc. To be able to pray within the walls of magnificent architecture holds its own place in my heart.
But, my heart feels at home, in simplistic surroundings, like in the photograph above, which I took, recently. The exterior and the interior speak to me, and illuminate my experiences while praying and mingling with the congregation. The euphemism, “Home is where the heart is”, holds true for me, while within the simple architectural environment with its basic chairs, understated Bema/Sanctuary around the Torah Ark, etc. (The screen is not a normal part of the interior, and is only used for special screenings.)
My sense of being a part of the Jewish community, a community that has endured so much struggle and hardship, horrific moments and perseverance, through the millennia, is heightened by the subtle and toned-down architectural interior, and the simple Judaica accessories, paintings, etc.
Prayers are elevated within the context of the interior, and resound through me immensely. I am home, each time I attend service or events. My heart fills with the many emotions that prayer reflects, such as sadness, strength, candor, joy, and so much more. I treasure my moments spent within the walls of synagogue simplicity.
“(Proverb) People long to be at home.; Your home is whatever place you long to be.”