Perhaps no aspect of our Centennial Project is so immediately visible to the naked eye as the new carpet in the sanctuary. Especially compared to the mustard yellow that it replaced, the new purplish carpet certainly makes a statement. Why such a bright color?
The first reason was, simply, to brighten the room. Especially during the day, when the copper windows appear colorless, the room looks tastefully but overwhelmingly brown. Considering there is little we can do with the wooden paneled walls, one of the only ways we can add color to the room is through the carpet. We actually tested dozens of carpet samples on the floor before choosing the carpet we did. Nearly all of them, various blues, burgundies, and even rainbows, appeared brown when set against the rest of the room. To me, prayer is about joy, and I wanted that reflected in the design of the room as well as the people.
The second, more important reason, was because it matches the description of the ancient mishkan (portable sanctuary) in the Torah. In Parashat Vayakhel, Exodus 35:23, it states that everyone who could, brought forth yarn of “techelet, v’argaman v’tola’at”, blue, purple, and crimson. Look closely, and you will see all three of these colors woven together in the new carpet. Now, our sanctuary hearkens back to our ancestors guided by God’s presence as they made their way through the wilderness.
Of course, all change is hard, and getting used to anything new, especially color, can be difficult. Still, next time you look down at the carpet on the sanctuary floor (and it’s hard to miss), think about the idea that not only has the room become brighter, but its colors are now the colors which decorated the first Jewish sanctuary over 3,000 years ago.