About the Adolph Gottlieb stained glass windows

One of the more ingenious ways that past and the present have been joined together in this building is by the Gottlieb windows. Adolph Gottlieb was a renowned American painter and exponent of abstract expressionism. He created “Pictographs” whose grid compartments each contained a single object. His style grew freer in the 1950’s. His work has been acquired by a number of American museums, and the Guggenheim Museum has exhibited his work in a one-man show.

When these stained glass windows were installed as the facade of the Milton Steinberg House in 1954 (interior view above), the gift of Mr. and Mrs. William Heller, they received the critical acclaim of the artistic community. The synagogue was the first building in the world to have a façade entirely of stained glass, and Gottlieb’s work was the largest continuous area of stained glass of its time. When the Rita and George M. Shapiro house was built in 1980, the façade was dismantled, and the Gottlieb windows were re- installed in Wimpfheimer Hall (lobby), the Appleman Chapel, the Hall of Worship (lower level), and the Early Childhood Center (5th floor). This magnificent art treasure continues to delight and inspire congregants and visitors of all ages.

The Gottlieb windows consist of 21 different compositions repeated in 91 panels. The 21 compositions represent four themes: Traditional Emblems, Religious Ritual, Biblical Incidents and Holidays. The colors – purple, scarlet, blue, gold and white – are recorded in the Bible as the colors with which God commanded Moses to adorn the Tabernacle.

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