Sacred Objects

Letting Beauty In

Our stained-glass windows were designed by talented Beth Chaim member artist Jessica Kolis. The stained-glass work was done by Hassan Moosavi with Lost Art Stained Glass. Hassan and Jessica formed a great partnership that created the beautiful windows we now enjoy and which have transformed our space.  Rebecca Heskes, another skilled congregant, created the beautiful designs on the doors of our Ark.

When you come to Beth Chaim please note some of the special elements of the window designs. The first challenge was to make them harmonious with the stained glass on the doors of the Ark, designed by Beth Chaim member artist Rebecca Heskes. Jessica retained similar colors in the stained glass and the grid pattern at the top of the large windows, plus the rays that lead back to the bima and ark. Another key unifying concept was capturing the rolling hills of our natural surroundings. You may also notice that in each of the large windows Hebrew letters are integrated into the designs. In the transom windows you can see the Hebrew words Shalom and Ahava (love), and the special window with a pomegranate design. The windows in the foyer have the word Shaddai in Hebrew letters, which is one of the names of God and is translated on our plaques as “Protector of the Portals of Yisrael”.  We are so blessed to have members of our congregation donate their time and artistry to beautify our home.  

We are so grateful to have in our community such talented artists as Jessica Kolis and Rebecca Heskes, and such generous members who donated for these dedications. Together we have made our Beth Chaim home a more special space for us all.
We are so grateful to have in our community such talented artists as Jessica Kolis and Rebecca Heskes, and such generous members who donated for these dedications. Together we have made our Beth Chaim home a more special space for us all.
Mezuzah at our front door
Mezuzah at our front door
Victor Ries
Victor Ries

Mezuzah at Front Door 

Victor Ries is well known for the many iconic metal sculptures that he designed and manufactured for synagogues throughout the Bay Area and throughout the world.

In 2007, Victor was a resident of the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living in Danville. When BCC member Neil Bernstein took Victor on a tour of our new building, still under interior construction, Victor expressed his desire to make something for the new synagogue. When he looked at the door frame at the main entrance, he asked if we already had a mezuzah. When told, “not yet,” his eyes lit up. “That is what I will make.”  

Knowing that Victor would soon turn 100 years old, many were skeptical that he would still have the needed dexterity and concentration level to craft even a small item out of metal. But very quickly he came up with a design that was both unique and beautifully sketched. The mezuzah was to be an unconventional square shape with the “Shadi” large and prominent at its center. 

For several weeks, Victor worked with special saws and files to shape the mezuzah from brass and silver. He ordered the scroll containing the “veahavta” from a scribe in Jerusalem. The scroll was written on real parchment by hand, not a printed reproduction. The project, funded partially by one of BCC’s generous members, was ready just in time to be nailed to the doorpost at the dedication ceremony for our new home.

Chanukah Menorah (Chanukiah)

Chanukah 1998 was the first time Beth Chaim Congregation lit our Chanukiah, our large Chanukah menorah. The lighting was at Blackhawk Plaza in Danville.  At over 7 feet tall, 8 feet wide and 300 pounds, in gleaming gold paint, it made quite a statement. 

The idea of a Chanukiah was led by BBC member Jon Bronstein, who was determined that our Chanukiah be beautiful as well as functional. As a carpenter, he decided he would build it out of solid, contractor—grade plywood and he would create a tree like shape. Over the next few weeks with help from members of BCC’s Brotherhood, the design was fully traced, cut out, and sanded. Later it was spray painted and then finished with a clear coat of automobile finish, donated by a member who owned a body shop. 


For the inaugural lighting at Blackhawk Plaza and for approximately the next 18 years, the Chanukiah burned with actual oil, with different combinations of oil and kindling. It was converted to electric light when we moved into our home on Holbrook Drive. At the base of the Chanukiah there is a small plaque, and as Rabbi Dan looked at it for the first time he paused and noted that it was probably the first time he saw the name “Beth Chaim Congregation” in Hebrew.  Beth Chaim now had a tangible presence in Danville. 

Illuminating our Teachings -The Stained Glass Doors of our Ark 

Beema IMG_1900

In 2007, the Holbrook hill had been scraped clean, leveled for several acres, and the new synagogue was beginning to take shape, emerging from the mud of winter with foundations, walls, and roof. Construction was progressing well towards a late June completion. 

One important element still needed to be addressed. The Aron Hagodesh – our Torah ark – was to be centered on the eastern wall of the sanctuary, but no one had any idea what it was to look like. That is until BCC member, Jon Bronstein, introduced his design. 

We had two parameters to adhere to. One, it had to fit the space allotted in the new sanctuary and two, it was to have the Tree of Life as the focal point. After researching hundreds of versions, one design caught our eye. In it the ark door frame was fashioned to simulate the trunk of the tree. The designers of that ark were the husband and wife team of Michelle and David Plachte-Zuieback, of Plachte­ Zuieback Art Glass of Santa Rosa.  

Since the sanctuary was designed as a multipurpose room, it was decided that the ark should have two sets of doors, one to show the Tree of Life during services and one to cover it during social events. Michelle and David were asked to come up with some alternative stained glass designs.

While we struggled with the glass design, the Plachte­-Zuieback team came up with a concept of double doors we could all agree to. The cover doors would include wooden recessed panels representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The panels would be done in Cedar of Tyre, the wood used in the construction of Solomon’s Temple. These doors would be mounted on an outside sliding track that opened to either side of the center ark door, which would also slide open as one large panel. Crowning the center ark door would be an arch, in the front and center of which would be suspended the Ner Tamid (Eternal Light). 

Professional artist and congregant, Rebecca Heskes, had designed a Tree of Life that was perfectly suited for the stained glass and exactly the piece that brought it all together. The new ark and its vibrant stained glass doors opened along with our new Temple in the summer of 2007. 

Holocaust Memorial Torah

Visit the Holocaust Torah page to learn about our amazing Torah and it’s history.