"Their work raises an interesting theological question: 
does holiness reside in special places and objects,
or can ordinary people take something ordinary and turn it into
something sacred by their efforts and their intentions?...
The sanctuary of Temple Israel of Natick stands as witness
to the power of ordinary people to take the most mundane of materials
and imbue them with holiness.”

-excerpt from Foreword by RABBI HAROLD KUSHNER, Rabbi Laureate, Temple Israel of Natick

"I resonated with your experience of building relationships in the faith community. I’m a member of a small Quaker meeting, where we are very conscious of the importance of our relationships and the sense of community we develop. And I have also found, over the years, that physical work together is a fabulous conduit for developing deeper bonds, which in turn are essential for the evolution of our spiritual lives. Thanks for sharing your story."

-Bruce Neumann, Lexington Woodworkers Guild

Boston Globe, January 4, 2015

NATICK — In 1985, Jay Ball and three of his fellow members of Temple Israel in Natick responded to the need for more seating at Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services by building more furniture. Later they were asked to construct an ark for the synagogue’s Torah scrolls. Soon afterward, the four began meeting on Sunday mornings over bagels and lox to discuss new project ideas.(read more...)

Jay and David Ball interviewed by Joe Weisse on NatickTV


Boston Globe, December 19, 2014

NATICK — They prefer to work in circles. In their three decades of volunteerism together, a group of amateur woodworkers have refurbished their Temple Israel with furniture and fixtures designed not with right angles, but curling shapes that suggest the scrolls of the Torah.(read more...)

"Ark Builders: Worship Through Woodworking is a beautifully rendered
story of craftsmanship, comedy and community, a study in community building as well as furniture building. The illustrations are priceless; as you read, you begin to appreciate the magnitude of the Ark Builders' talents, not to mention their sense of humor! The humor even reaches into the schematic drawings…

It’s profound and personal, and anyone involved in their own community
will find inspiration here. You are compelled to continue turning the pages.
You laugh, you cry, you care about every character.
What more can you ask of any read?"

-Elyse Adler, Associate Director for Community Engagement, Nashville Public Library

Natick Bulletin & Tab, November 28, 2014

NATICK — When Temple Israel needed more space for people who were attending its High Holy Days services, the temple decided to erect a tent outside to meet the demand. Temple leaders also needed furniture such as an ark, but they were unhappy with what they could buy. So, a group of temple members built the furniture themselves.(read more...)

"This is a spectacular book. It beautifully brings together many elements that are of real human interest: the story of a community, the story of individuals and the challenges they faced as people of faith, the story of
a congregation and theological reflections woven into daily life.

It is the story of how deep friendships form. It comes with both
beautiful drawings and photographs of the design and build process,
and a vision of tikkun olam for which we all long.

All of these elements make it a book to be enjoyed by people
who belong to communities of faith, woodworkers, and anyone seeking to understand how to literally build a life of meaning and substance."

-The Rev. Jon Strand
rector, St. Paul's Episcopal Church (Natick, MA)

"Sizzling Seniors" Interview with Erica Ball


"In a world bereft of the Holy, it is a wonderful surprise when one finds it in a totally unexpected place. As I opened the beautiful book “Ark Builders,” I knew I was encountering one of those places."

-The Rev. Eric C. Markman
Pastor, The Hartford Street Presbyterian Church

"Wow! ... the incredible work, and talent they exhibit through the finished projects is inspiring! ... a story worth sharing!"

-Peter Levine

"I really enjoyed reading the Ark Builders and, more importantly, I appreciate what it represents in terms of building community, menschlichkeit, and expressing one’s love of synagogue in creative ways."

-Alan Teperow, Executive Director Synagogue Council of Massachusetts

Natick Bulletin and Tab, October 24, 2014

Posted Oct. 24, 2014, NATICK Twenty-nine years ago the Temple Israel of Natick had run out of seating for upcoming services, so several members came together to build furniture needed for tent services. Although they were not trained woodworkers, the next year these men built an ark - an enclosure for Hebrew Torah scrolls in the Temple. They then began meeting every Sunday, looking for new projects. (read more...)

"Sizzling Seniors" Interview with authors Jay and David Ball


To be reviewed soon