Sky High with the Eldridge Street Synagogue ‘Oculus’ Window Restoration [PHOTOS]
The sky-high stained-glass window piercing the star-stamped ceiling of the Eldridge Street Synagogue is undergoing a full restoration.
We’re told that the decorative glass of the so-called “Oculus” – an original relic dating back to 1887 – had dislodged from its lead frame that kept it in place all these years. Each section was then dismantled and carted to Sunset Park for repairs. This past Friday, we were invited to capture an up-close-and-personal look at the re-installation.
Documenting the occasion entailed a harrowing climb up seven flights on freestanding scaffolding to a platform roughly fifty feet above the floor. The perch provided a photogenic look at the entire sanctuary; the seven-year-old East Window; the massive chain holding up the chandelier; the constellation painted across the ceiling.
“The team working on the Oculus restoration is the same group who conducted the synagogue restoration [that completed in 2007] and the creation of the new window by Kiki Smith and Deborah Gans,” deputy director Amy Stein-Milford tells us. The stained glass was fixed in the artists’ aforementioned Brooklyn studio.
By Friday afternoon, the Oculus was back home, just in time for Shabbos.
The Eldridge Street Synagogue is certainly no stranger to repairs. Two decades’ worth of rehabilitation (plus $20 million) were needed to overhaul the damaged sanctuary, which devolved during an extended period of dormancy. The job began in 1987, and was not fully completed until 2007. All the stained glass windows, with the exception of the East Window, are original and were salvaged with about 75% of the original pieces.