The synagogue Rodeph Shalom at Broad and Green streets is certainly one of the most recognizable buildings in the city and is easily the grandest of Philadelphia’s Jewish houses of worship. Almost a year ago, congregants gathered for the groundbreaking of the synagogue’s $16 million expansion and renovation project.
At the time, architectural firm KierenTimberlake released renderings of an addition that weren’t favorably received. Both the Inquirer’s Inga Saffron and John Gallery of the Preservation Alliance publicly expressed reservations about the initial design, from its scale to aesthetics.
Now the addition has been redesigned, taking such concerns into account. The synagogue’s board has approved it, and construction should start later this month, according to today’s Inquirer (which writes about the expansion as though this is the first time it’s ever been mentioned).
The expansion does signify the synagogue’s commitment to North Broad Street, given that, over the years, all the other Jewish congregations left a street that once had many of them. Congregation president Dena Herrin told the Inquirer’s Vernon Clark:
“Everyone else left. We were the only ones who stayed. We made a very difficult decision to stay on North Broad Street when everyone else left because we have always been very very committed to this neighborhood.”
Good thing the building is such a behemoth. Can you imagine trying to shlep that thing to the suburbs? An expansion has to be a whole lot easier to manage.