New York, NY, November 2009
About this photo: Thematic Photographic celebrates building week. If a structure has moved you in any way, please click here to share the experience.We had come here to celebrate our cousin's wedding. As always seems to happen in life, though, the journey was so much richer than we originally thought it would be. The building saw to that.
This place, the Angel Orensanz Center, was built in 1849 as a synagogue. And although it now functions as the home of the foundation of the Spanish artist's foundation, it is often rented out for events like parties and weddings.
Sex and the City trivia watchers would probably be tickled to know that Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick were married here, but what really gets at you as you walk slowly through this living example of your history is the way past generations seem to echo around every turn. Look up and there's a carved-in-ornate-stone list of members from before your grandfather's time. Look to the side and there's an artistic flourish that wouldn't be out of place in a museum.
Indeed, this is a museum. One that's stunningly different - gothic style synagogues are understandably rare - and incredibly familiar all at the same time. I couldn't stop comparing it to every other synagogue I had ever visited, my mind racing to process the rich memories this place had uncovered. I thought about the community that built it, and wondered what it must have been like back then to walk into the sanctuary.
Today, I do much the same thing in a much newer building a world removed from this place. But is that feeling of reconnecting any different despite the passage of time? Something to ponder as I continue to attend shul before the sun rises.
More than a few times that night, I thought my father would have enjoyed this place, and quietly hoped he had at least had a chance to look it up online before he passed away. He appreciated the significance of places like this. Now, so do I.
Your turn: Buildings that connect us - and to us. Please discuss.