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The Hampton Synagogue
Westhampton Beach, NY

The Berman Sanctuary is an intimate, 200-seat contemporary-styled worship space built in 1993. While used year-round by the small local Orthodox Jewish community, in summer months the congregation—drawn from many nearby summer homes and vacation communities—swells to three or four times the sanctuary’s seating capacity. Large folding glass doors, forming the north and south sanctuary walls, are opened onto awning-covered outdoor porches to accommodate the overflow worshipers.

When the porch doors are closed the sanctuary has supportive natural acoustics appropriate for the spoken word. Both the rabbi, speaking from the ahmud at the east wall, and the cantor, from the central bimah, can be heard and understood throughout. When the porch doors are opened, however, acoustical characteristics of the sanctuary change dramatically, compounded by the introduction of significant environmental noise from the neighborhood, with the result that congregants both inside and outside have great difficulty hearing and understanding the rabbi and cantor.

We were asked to design a Shabbat speech reinforcement sound system which would bring every word of the worship service to listeners inside and outside the sanctuary. The congregation was particularly concerned that our design both meet the strict Halachic requirements of Jewish Law and be as visually inconspicuous and unobtrusive as possible. Loudspeakers in the sanctuary are discretely built into the walls. Porch loudspeakers are mounted under the sanctuary roof soffit and appear to be part of the awning structure.

We worked closely with the Zomet Institute, of Alon Shevut, Israel, to ensure that the sanctuary sound system is in full compliance with Halachic restrictions of Jewish Law, and used only in accordance with guidelines set by the synagogue rabbis. Our sound system design is consistent with the architectural and liturgical fabric of the sanctuary, but does not compromise the goal of excellent speech reinforcement.

At The Hampton Synagogue, Halacha and high-quality speech reinforcement ar no longer mutually exclusive!

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