December 12, 2018

Film on LeWitt’s Landmark Synagogue to Premier Today at Madison Cinema

about_2

CHESTER — Complete with a red carpet, the Madison Art Cinemas will host the Sunday, June 14, world premiere of We Built This House, a one-hour film telling the story of Chester synagogue Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ)—known as a global art landmark for being the only public building that acclaimed artist Sol LeWitt ever designed.

Film producer-director Jon Joslow, a lifetime member of the Congregation, will discuss the movie and a reception will follow the screening. Tickets are open to the public and may be obtained for a donation of $18 each through the synagogue office, 860 526 8920. The start time is 11 a.m.

In a 2013 profile, Town & Country’s arts editor compared the striking Chester sanctuary with a masterpiece chapel Henri Matisse created in Nice, France. But the synagogue, opened in 2001, started as a napkin sketch. LeWitt first drew a structure inspired by traditional wooden temples of Eastern Europe combined with elements of colonial New England barns.

worshipWe Built This House traces how architect Stephen Lloyd translated LeWitt’s vision into post and beam, and how the Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek community collaborated and improvised—even adapting a design discovered in a medieval English watermill—to give structure to the sanctuary’s wooden dome. LeWitt’s iconic installation on the ark drew national attention when the building opened; it prompted Town & Country to observe “modern art as [the sanctuary’s] focal point.”

LeWitt, a Chester resident who died at 78 in 2007, is recognized as one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century. The sanctuary has become known as one of the most astonishing, and spiritually welcoming, religious spaces in the world.

True to its roots, Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek has become one of the shoreline’s most vital cultural centers. Its Music & More performances draw hundreds and its art gallery features serial exhibitions from established and breakthrough artists.

Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek—Hebrew for “House of Peace Pursuing Justice”—is marking the 100th year since the founding of one of its two predecessor temples in Moodus. We Built This House is part of yearlong centennial celebrations culminating in an Oct. 3 gala and the inaugural presentation of the synagogue’s new annual Pursuer of Peace and Justice Award. Though it is located in Chester, temple members come from 36 towns, from West Hartford to Westbrook, Norwich to North Branford.

Producer/director Joslow is a crisis/transition leader for private equity who spent a year mining the history of the congregation and its building. Given time limitations in the documentary, which was conceived as a pilot, the synagogue is developing a parallel video archive to capture stories of all congregants who were part of the building’s creation. Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is also positioning the film to encourage financial contributions to support “Second Century” programming. Supporters can be listed in permanent screen credits as producers.

DVDs of We Built This House are expected to be released later this year. Given the film’s unique insights into art as architecture, and into how a community can join together in creative enterprise, organizers anticipate interest among public television stations, those engaged in architectural and design collaborations, and art museums, in airing it following the premiere.

The Madison Art Cinemas is located at 761 Boston Post Road, Madison CT.

For more information on We Built This House or Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek, see www.cbsrz.org or www.ancientandcool.com. Or contact Temple Administrator Wendy Bayor at wendy@cbsrz.net or 860-526-8920.

Share