The interior is very simple, but beautiful in its proportions. (These photos are from 2005.)There are twelve windows around the sanctuary, one for each of the twelve tribes. Jewish tradition requires that at least one window face Jerusalem (east). Because of the Romanesque symmetry, the Shul has two.
Columns are also a traditional feature of synagogue architecture (because the Temple had columns). Local tradition says that the six columns represent the six days of the week, revolving around Shabbat which is represented by the Reader's Desk in the middle.
The shul's brass lighting fixtures are original. They were originally gas lights. Some still show the threaded nipple for attaching the gas line, and the flow control valve with its large, flat, decorative knob to twist.
We don't yet know when they were converted to electricity.
Several old layers of paint were removed from them when the shul was restored in the early 1990's.
The photo at right shows how the interior looked in 1986. (Click it to see it full-sized.)
The wainscoating, window trim, and lower columns were chocolate brown. The upper walls were painted light beige with sponge effects to make a shallow cottony look. The columns were painted with feather effects to simulate marbling. The capitals were painted with flat gold. A brown stencilling pattern divided the walls into sections. The ceiling was white.
This was not the shul's original appearance.
The photos below show parts of the original stenciling pattern of 1912. These originally bright colors skirted the edges of the walls and ceiling, and surrounded the central chandelier. The pattern was uncovered during the 1994 replacement of the original plaster walls and ceiling. (Click either photo to see more of the pattern.
Downstairs: The Elmer Lippin Social HallMost of the basement was originally unfinished, with a dirt floor. It was used as a cheder.
It was converted into a social hall in the late 1930's by the Newton Hebrew Ladies Aid, both for its own use and to house the newly formed YMHA. But the YMHA ended with the start of World War II.
Founded about the time the synagogue was built, or maybe earlier, so that "no Jewish family should do without," the Newton Hebrew Ladies Aid pursued that purpose for many years, discreetly helping those in need.
The photo above shows the northeast corner of the Elmer Lippin Social Hall in June 2005. The photo at right shows the hall as viewed from the Swartz-Shoolman Foyer.
In the early 1990's the bathrooms were enlarged and modernized, hot water was installed in the building for the very first time, the stairs to the lower level were widened, and the pantry was expanded into a kitchen. To accomplish this, the west wall of the social hall was moved a foot and a half into the hall. The original wainscoting was transferred to the new wall.
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