Perhaps the most critical decision about synagogue renewal relates to the seating. After all, much of the time the congregation is seated. How can you make the best choices?
The seating systems for your synagogue are probably one of the most expensive elements you’ll purchase in the whole renewal process. It’s a step that requires careful thought and early planning. It’s also a decision that should be made with people who deeply understand how such seating should function and be arranged.
Among the many details on your desk to consider, here are some guidelines to make life a little easier.
Much of the time your congregation will be seated. You want to ensure that they are comfortable and relaxed in seats that have good back support. It’s advisable to choose seats with a relatively straight angle, since these will make it easy for you to sit and stand frequently (as is the case with prayers).
One of the key advantages with Lavi seats is that no matter which model you choose, they all offer excellent ergonomic comfort.
Convenience for worshippers
There are several considerations here. Should the seats be bench style or individual? Should they have individual armrests? Should the reading shelf be fixed or foldable? Is there a need for storage boxes? Should these be individual or open, running the length of the bench?
Detailed discussions with the planning committee of the synagogue will determine which model of seating is most appropriate and which variation of that model should be chosen.
Be sure that your supplier has a number of seating systems available as well as flexibility of elements within each system (such as the addition of foldable shelves and storage compartments). Lavi’s systems include:
- Classic model – A traditional looking model with raised seats, a closed compartment and a double (folding) shelf. There is a large standing area during prayer.
- Ladino model – Each of the seats are a separate unit and together they form a long bench. Storage compartments and folding shelves can also be installed.
- Galil model – This model offers a combination of the two above models. Storage compartments and folding shelves can also be installed.
- Yeshiva model – The seat is not upholstered but still designed for ergonomic comfort. The bench seats rise, creating a generous space during the Amidah prayer. As with other models, storage compartments and folding shelves can be added.
Clearly the mass of seating in the prayer hall (as well as seating for other public areas) has to fit its surroundings. The company providing the seating must take into account the other furniture and general style of the synagogue and suggest seating design that blends in.
Stacking – flexibility in numbers
Since the numbers of worshippers change according to regular or festive days and celebrations, the question is how to increase seating while preserving the overall elegance of the prayer hall. Nobody really wants cheap plastic chairs alongside the quality permanent seating.
At Lavi we offer stacked chairs, built with the same upholstery and wood stain as the fixed seats, which can be wheeled in 12-high on special trolleys that we also supply. Connectors can be added between the chairs to keep the rows straight.
It’s always a good idea to visit other synagogues and evaluate how suitable their seating is for you. Perhaps there’s a Lavi-supplied synagogue near you. If you’re visiting Israel, come for a tour of our plant.