AUSTIN (KXAN) — “Just a battering of our soul,” said former president of Congregation Beth Israel Laura Corman said of a 2021 fire that burned the synagogue.

After using worship space at nearby St. Matthew’s for nearly two years, the congregation is back at home – just one building over, and just in time for Yom Kippur.

“We weren’t able to gather in our home with our worship in our community,” Corman said. “Our spaces have changed…but the elements, the essence of or worship hasn’t changed – just in a new space.”  

The sanctuary itself still has too much smoke damage to hold services there, so staff and clergy converted another building on the property into the new worship space.

  • Old sanctuary
  • Congregation Beth Israel new space
  • New fixture

It includes two panels of stained glass that were above the doors of the original sanctuary that burned down, as well as a new “Eternal Flame” fixture made from the broken glass of other stained glass windows that were shattered in the fire.

“The thought was how do we make something beautiful about something truly horrible,” said Corman.

Congregation Beth Israel is still deciding what to do with the old sanctuary.

The 20-year-old man charged with setting the fire pleaded guilty to the crime earlier this year.