SOMERVILLE, Mass. — To certain first-time visitors to Havurat Shalom, the congregation’s prayer room may look remarkably familiar.
From the macrame Jewish star adorning the ark and the Middle Eastern-style lamp serving as a ner tamid to the pillows on a bare floor and the sparely decorated walls, the room looks exactly as it does in a photograph from The Jewish Catalog, the do-it-yourself Judaism guidebook published in 1973 that brought the then five-year-old Havurat Shalom a measure of fame.
At the time, the image suggested an innovative vision of Judaism, stripped of pretense and focused on cultivating a tight-knit sense of community and direct devotional experience. Today, the room looks as if it had been preserved in amber.