Alef Bet of Synagogues: Ayin, Pay, Tzakik


Alef Bet of Synagogues: Ayin, Pay, Tzakik

October 14, 2020
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM


Jonathan Friedman

Professor, School of Architecture & Design, New York Institute of Technology

Jonathan Friedman was Dean of the School of Architecture & Design at New York Institute of Technology from 1992 – 2000, managing an $11 million annual budget, and supervising 2000 students and staff annually. He managed successful FIDER and NAAB accreditation visits. He set curriculum, managed diverse constituencies, supervised new campus programs, directed exhibitions, publications, competitions, lecture series, and symposia. He worked on developing outreach and exchange programs with the Lakota Sioux in Rosebud SD, and the Sassi Foundation, Matera Italy.


Friedman is currently a tenured Professor of Architecture at New York Tech, where he has taught for over 30 years, and has served as coordinator for Design Fundamentals and Thesis. Before coming to New York Tech he was a visiting professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology, and a tenured professor at the University of Kentucky. He has been a guest critic at Cooper Union, University of Bologna, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Harvard, and elsewhere.

Friedman earned an award at the First Annual AIA Education Honors Program 1988, and won the first Annual Outstanding Teacher Award from the U.K. College of Architecture, 1977. As a registered architect with Kentucky licensure and NCARB certification, his built architectural designs include office spaces in NYC as well as private residences in Kentucky and New Jersey. He has worked in the offices of Richard Meier and Michael Graves among others. He was Senior Consultant for Planning in Nassau County, New York in 2003. He has represented the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) on accreditation visiting teams for NAAB to many professional programs—most recently in 2014-2015 to both campuses of The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin in Spring Green, WI and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ.

About this Faculty Research Lecture

Introduction: Robert CODY, Associate Professor, School of Architecture & Design, New York Institute of Technology

Respondent: David DIAMOND, Professor, School of Architecture & Design, New York Institute of Technology

An architectural exploration of possible forms of COMMUNITY as a series of design studies of places for gathering together (the meaning of “synagogue.”) Since the fall of the Second Temple in 70 CE and the ensuing Diaspora, the Jewish place of worship has been an evolving and diversifying design of program and space. With surprisingly few liturgical architectural requirements, a synagogue is an interesting design problem. Every synagogue need not be the space of a movie theater—wide proscenuum and facing pews. Now a half-century in the making, when the project began “cutting edge” architecture focussed mainly on houses—Eisenman’s House X, Hejduk’s Wall House, Meier’s Smith House. Since Eisenman had already made House One, ALEF, first letter in the Hebrew alphabet, seemed appropriate for the first theoretical synagogue project. There’s a vast literature on the significance and character of each Hebrew letter. When ALEF was completed, BET, the second letter, beckoned. These projects take a long time—they are broadly researched and deeply considered inventions. Without the normal justification for architecture—no client, site, or budget, to arrive at a “synthetic inevitability” takes thought, and lots of time. Each one in the series has taken on average 3 years to complete. Fortunately, there are only 22 letters in the Hebrew ALEF BET. Here are the most recent.

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