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Chabad Converts Electricity Into Spiritual Energy

The Chabad-Lubavitch movement has taken a 1922 Berlin power station and transformed it into a Jewish community center.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 6/9/2010, 2:03 PM / Last Update: 6/9/2010, 2:20 PM

courtesy of Chabad of Berlin

The Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Berlin has transformed a former electric power station into a different form of energy generator.

The group created a gleaming new Jewish community center from the 1922 building, originally a voltage transformer station and subsequently a laboratory for street illumination. The impetus for the project came from a Jewish society which purchased the building in 2004 and then leased it to “Chabad Lubawitsch” for the next 99 years.

The center includes an Orthodox synagogue and room for children's services, a mikvah (ritual pool) in the basement, and seminar rooms and a library. Also included are a cafe and a festival room with a kosher kitchen attached, to provide accommodation for the numerous religious and cultural events celebrated by community members and their visitors from around the world.

The design, a stunning meld of classic organics with asymmetrical vertical elements, has been entered in the 2010 Wan Awards architecture competition for Civic Buildings, according to a report by World Architecture News.

Deep burgundy upholstered seats in the chapel are accented by the monolithic sandstone plates gracing the wall that separates the synagogue from the foyer. The angles of the women's balcony are gently curved to grow out of the wall and around a pillar; no wall separates the sound of prayer from anyone. An oval skylight above the worshipers, symbolizing the connection to spirituality, is enhanced by narrow lights inserted into what would otherwise be dark, walnut-covered walls.