Yesterday evening we were blessed to have a forum where our newest Jerusalem Center Director, Dr. Kent Brown, spoke to us. He gave us a detailed history of how the Jerusalem Center came to be and the opposition it faced along the way (which was extreme and often…) I had heard many of the stories he told us, but was surprised and fascinated by others. One of my favorite stories of the night was about the initial occupation of the Center. The students in the Winter of 1987 were residing in a nearby Kibbutz when Brother Gallbraith decided that they would need to occupy the Center by 6 am the next morning. He told the 100 students to pack up their things and silently move into the Center overnight. Due to the opposition the Center was facing, the idea was to get inside without drawing any attention. If they came in the early morning and took possession of the building it would be hard for them to be kicked out if they were already in. This move-in was obviously unexpected and the Center was not completely finished… in fact, they didn’t have heat for more than a month and relied on the sun to warm the building. There were problems with the running water, lighting, and other aspects of the JC, but Dr. Brown emphasized, “Our students were home and that was the important thing.” ß This was probably my favorite thing he said that night… this is home.
The Center has a GORGEOUS Auditorium and I have heard time and time again that there is NO other room on the planet like it (I have not yet taken my own pictures of it… but will do so soon.. the one below is one I found online) Dr. Brown described the acoustics of the room and added that the sound on the stage runs along the floor as it ascends the room, the holes in the chairs absorb some of the sound (a very small amount) so that the sound in the room is reinforced by the sound ascending beneath you.
He spoke about the Center being created to have the feeling of a living, breathing structure. Light will enter the JC from all different angles (there are SO many windows in this place!) and thus the light will change during various times of the day. From almost any window in the Center you have a great view of Jerusalem to make it feel like the City is coming into the Center. I’m definitely not stating things as eloquently as he did, but he used some beautiful imagery. Another interesting idea was that they constructed all the residential corridors to resemble the streets of the Old City. This is done with 1) the narrowness of the halls and 2) parts of the corridor being covered and other parts being outside.
Also, the rumors are true… the beautiful Jerusalem Center will one day be turned into a temple with a “change in use” permit. It is currently chartered as an educational facility. However, this day when it will become a temple is very far off and seems almost impossible with the committees it would have to go through. For now it is used largely as an educational facility... oh and what an education it is!