One of the central features of Jewish funerals is the eulogy – hesped in Hebrew – during which a speaker calls attention to the achievements of the deceased and implores the living to take stock of their lives. Tradition dictates that the hesped should offer praise, but not excessive veneration, for the deceased; a sentiment reflected fittingly in the eye-catching yet restrained articulation of this new purpose-built funerary shelter.
Designed by Ron Shenkin Studio, the shelter provides a space for mourners to conduct eulogies under its jaggedly folded concrete canopy, sited amongst the surrounding burial lots. The striking silhouette of the shelter is offset by minimalist structural support and quiet details – such as leaf-prints in the concrete floor, referencing the area’s earlier orchards razed for development.
The canopy provides a flexible space: able to accommodate large groups under its 256 square metre surface area, while smaller groups can hold more intimate ceremonies beneath its lower sections.
There is much debate among Jewish theologians over the intended beneficiary of the hesped: do we eulogise for the benefit of the dead or the living? In this shelter, Ron Shenkin neatly captures the middle ground of the argument. Celebratory but respectful, the structure calls for both vibrancy in life and quiet reflection in death. I (gk)
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