1. a broad horizontal band of sculpted or painted decoration, especially on a wall near the ceiling.


My love of the Mandell JCC building on Bloomfield Avenue dates back to the very first time I saw it nearly 40 years ago when I came to Hartford to interview for the Teen Director position.  It was then that Murry Shapiro, Executive Director of the JCC began to share his many stories about this wonderful edifice that was designed, funded, and built under his leadership.  Murry would regale me with stories about the building that opened to the community in 1962. 


From him I learned about Walter Gropius, the world renowned architect who joined the Architects Collaborative in Boston and helped to design the building with Norman Fletcher. Gropius, a German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School, was considered to be one of the first masters of modernist architecture.  


Of the many features of the building, one of my favorites is the set of 10 abstract cast-in-stone fascia sculptures found in their entirety on the outside of the theater and repeated in small groups on different sides of the original building. They were designed by artists Ros and Harris Barron.  A website of their work can be found at


Murry featured renderings of them on the cover of the Annual Meeting programs and noted, on the back cover, the verses from the creation story in the first chapter of Genesis that were associated with each of the 10 sculptures. The full set can now be viewed in the new Presidents’ Courtyard.


A few summers back, Stephen Wylen, Interim Rabbi at Congregation Kol Haverim in Glastonbury, and I were looking over the descriptions of the 10 panels when we realized that the verses were listed in the wrong order on the program and most likely were not correctly associated with the sculptures. 


We printed out copies of the images and with the Book of Genesis in-hand we began to correctly annotate, in the proper order, these wonderful abstract expressions. Absent any records from the artists or any additional information beyond the Annual Meeting Programs, we decided that our rendition, nearly 60 years after the sculptures were constructed, may stand going forward as the correct and official version. 


I know Murry would be pleased that we continue to pay attention to this architectural treasure in our community.  The verses and images of the frieze are reprinted here.    



David Jacobs

Executive Director




The Mandell JCC Building



The earth was unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep, and a divine wind sweeping over the water. (Genesis 1:2)


God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God separated the light from the darkness.  (Genesis 1:3-4)


God made the raki’a to separate the waters above from the waters below. God called the vault of expanse (the raki’a ) “sky.” (Genesis 1:7-8) 


God said, “Let the water below the sky gather in one place so that dry land may appear.” God called the dry land “earth” and the gathering of water God called the “sea.”  (Genesis 1:9-10)



God said, “let the earth sprout vegetation, seed-bearing plants, fruit trees of every kind with seed in it.” (Genesis 1:11)


God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from night. God placed the great light to rule over the day and the lesser light to rule over the night. (Genesis 1:14-17)



God said, “Let the water swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth.”  (Genesis 1:20)


God said, “Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature – cattle, creeping things, and wild beasts of every kind.”  (Genesis 1:24)


God created the human in God’s own image, in the divine likeness; male and female God created them.  (Genesis 1:26-27)


On the seventh day God ceased from labor. God blessed the seventh day and called it holy.  (Genesis 2:2-3)






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